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V. DIETRICH'S END .... 134 





X. THE LOMBARD LAWS . . . .271 




IT is with a feeling of awe, I had almost said 
of fear, that I find myself in this place, upon this 
errand. The responsibility of a teacher of History 
in Cambridge is in itself very heavy : but doubly 
heavy in the case of one who sees among his 
audience many men as fit, it may be some more 
fit, to fill this Chair: and again, more heavy still, 
when one succeeds to a man whose learning, like 
his virtues, one can never hope to equal. 

But a Professor, I trust, is like other men, 
capable of improvement; and the great law, 'do- 
cendo disces/ may be fulfilled in him, as in other 
men. Meanwhile, I can only promise that such 
small powers as I possess will be honestly devoted 
to this Professorate ; and that I shall endeavour 
to teach Modern History after a method which 
shall give satisfaction to the Rulers of this Uni 

I shall do that best, I believe, by keeping 
in mind the lessons which I, in common with 



thousands more, have learnt from my wise and 
good predecessor. I do not mean merely patience 
in research, and accuracy in fact. They are re 
quired of all men : and they may be learnt from 
many men. But what Sir James Stephen's life 
and writings should especially teach us, is the 
beauty and the value of charity; of that large- 
hearted humanity, which sympathizes with all 
noble, generous, earnest thought and endeavour, 
in whatsoever shape they may have appeared; 
a charity which, without weakly or lazily con 
founding the eternal laws of right and wrong, can 
make allowances for human frailty; can separate the 
good from the evil in men arid in theories ; can un 
derstand, and can forgive, because it loves. Who can 
read Sir James Stephen's works without feeling 
more kindly toward many a man, and many a form 
of thought, against which he has been more or less 
prejudiced; without a more genial view of human 
nature, a more hopeful view of human destiny, 
a more full belief in the great saying, that e Wis 
dom is justified of all her children'? Who, too, 
can read those works without seeing how charity 
enlightens the intellect, just as bigotry darkens it; 
how events, which to the theorist and the pedant 
are merely monstrous and unmeaning, may ex 
plain themselves easily enough to the man who 
will put himself in his fellow-creatures' place ; who 
will give them credit for being men of like pas 
sions with himself; who will see with their eyes, 


feel with their hearts, and take for his motto, 
' Homo sum, nil humani a me alienum puto'? 

I entreat gentlemen who may hereafter attend 
my lectures to bear in mind this last saying. If 
they wish to understand History, they must first 
try to understand men and women. For His 
tory is the history of men and women, and of 
nothing else; and he who knows men and women 
thoroughly will best understand the past work of 
the world, and be best able to carry on its work 
now. The men who, in the long run, have govern 
ed the world, have been those who understood the 
human heart; and therefore it is to this day the 
statesman who keeps the reins in his hand, and not 
the mere student. He is a man of the world; he 
knows how to manage his fellow-men ; and there 
fore he can get work done which the mere student 
(it may be) has taught him ought to be done ; 
but which the mere student, much less the mere 
trader or economist, could not get done; simply 
because his fellow-men would probably not listen 
to him, and certainly outwit him. Of course, in 
proportion to the depth, width, soundness, of his 
conception of human nature, will be the great 
ness and wholesomeness of his power. He may 
appeal to the meanest, or to the loftiest motives. 
He may be a fox or an eagle; a Borgia, or a 
Hildebrand; a Talleyrand, or a Napoleon; a Mary 
Stuart, or an Elizabeth : but however base, how 
ever noble, the power which he exercises is the 



same in essence. He makes History, because he 
understands men. And you, if you would under 
stand History, must understand men. 

If, therefore, any of you should ask me how 
to study history, I should answer Take by all 
means biographies : wheresoever possible, autobio 
graphies; and study them. Fill your minds with 
live human figures ; men of like passions with 
yourselves; see how each lived and worked in 
the time and place in which God put him. Be 
lieve me, that when you have thus made a friend 
of the dead, and brought him to life again, and 
let him teach you to see with his eyes, and feel 
with his heart, you will begin to understand more 
of his generation and his circumstances, than all 
the mere history-books of the period would teach 
you. In proportion as you understand the man, 
and only so, will you begin to understand the 
elements in which he worked. And not only to 
understand, but to remember. Names, dates, ge 
nealogies, geographical details, costumes, fashions, 
manners, crabbed scraps of old law, which you 
used, perhaps, to read up and forget again, because 
they were not rooted, but stuck into your brain, 
as pins are into a pincushion, to fall out at the 
first shake all these you will remember; because 
they will arrange and organize themselves around 
the central human figure : just as, if you have 
studied a portrait by some great artist, you can 
not think of the face in it, without recollecting 


also the light and shadow, the tone of colouring, 
the dress, the very details of the background, and 
all the accessories which the painter's art has 
grouped around; each with a purpose, and there 
fore each fixing itself duly in your mind. Who, 
for instance, has not found that he can learn 
more French history from French memoirs, than 
even from all the truly learned and admirable 
histories of France which have beep, written of 
late years ? There are those, too, who will say 
of good old Plutarch's lives, (now-a-days, I think, 
too much neglected,) what some great man used 
to say of Shakspeare and English history that 
all the ancient history which they really knew, 
they had got from Plutarch. I am free to con 
fess that I have learnt what little I know of 
the middle-ages, what they were like, how they 
came to be what they were, and how they issued 
in the Reformation, not so much from the study 
of the books about them (many and wise though 
they are), as from the thumbing over, for years, 
the semi-mythical saints' lives of Surius and the 

Without doubt History obeys, and always has 
obeyed, in the long run, certain laws. But those 
laws assert themselves, and are to be discovered, not 
in things, but in persons ; in the actions of human 
beings ; and just in proportion as we under 
stand human beings, shall we understand the laws 


which they have obeyed, or which have avenged 
themselves on their disobedience. This may seem 
a truism : if it be such, it is one which we cannot 
too often repeat to ourselves just now, when the 
rapid progress of science is tempting us to look 
at human beings rather as things than as persons, 
and at abstractions (under the name of laws) 
rather as persons than as things. Discovering, 
to our just delight, order and law all around us, 
in a thousand events which seemed to our fathers 
fortuitous and arbitrary, we are dazzled just now 
by the magnificent prospect opening before us, 
and fall, too often, into more than one serious 

First; students try to explain too often all 
the facts which they meet by the very few laws 
which they know; and especially moral phae- 
nomena by physical, or at least economic laws. 
There is an excuse for this last error. Much 
which was thought, a few centuries since, to be 
long to the spiritual world, is now found to belong 
to the material ; and the physician is consulted, 
where the exorcist used to be called in. But 
it is a somewhat hasty corollary therefrom, and 
one not likely to find favour in this University, 
that moral laws and spiritual agencies have 
nothing at all to do with the history of the 
human race. We shall not be inclined . here, 
I trust, to explain (as some one tried to do 


lately) the Crusades by a hypothesis of over 
stocked labour-markets on the Continent. 

Neither, again, shall we be inclined to class 
those same Crusades among ' popular delusions/ 
and mere outbursts of folly and madness. This 
is a very easy, and I am sorry to say, a very com 
mon method of disposing of facts which will not 
fit into the theory, too common of late, that need 
and greed have been always, and always ought 
to be, the chief motives of mankind. Need and 
greed, heaven knows, are powerful enough : but 
I think that he who has something nobler in 
himself than need and greed, will have eyes to 
discern something nobler than them, in the most 
fantastic superstitions, in the most ferocious out 
bursts, of the most untutored masses. Thank 
God, that those who preach the opposite doctrine 
belie it so often by a happy inconsistency; that 
he who declares self-interest to be the mainspring 
of the world, can live a life of virtuous self-sacri 
fice ; that he who denies, with Spinoza, the ex 
istence of free-will, can disprove his own theory, 
by willing, like Spinoza amid all the temptations 
of the world, to live a life worthy of a Roman 
Stoic; and that he who represents men as the 
puppets of material circumstance, and who there 
fore has no logical right either to praise virtue, 
or to blame vice, can shew, by a healthy admira 
tion of the former, a healthy scorn of the latter, 
how little his heart has been corrupted by the 


eidola specus, the phantoms of the study, which 
have oppressed his brain. But though men are 
often, thank heaven, better than their doctrines, 
yet the goodness of the man does not make his 
doctrine good; and it is immoral as well as un- 
philosophical to call a thing hard names simply 
because it cannot be fitted into our theory of the 
universe. Immoral, because all harsh and hasty 
wholesale judgments are immoral ; unphilosophi- 
cal, because the only philosophical method of 
looking at the strangest of phenomena is to be 
lieve that it too is the result of law, perhaps a 
healthy result ; that it is not to be condemned 
as a product of disease before it is proven to be 
such ; and that if it be a product of disease, 
disease has its laws, as much as health; and is 
a subject, not for cursing, but for induction ; so 
that (to return to my example) if every man 
who ever took part in the Crusades were proved 
to have been simply mad, our sole business would 
be to discover why he went mad upon that special 
matter, and at that special time. And to do that, 
we must begin by recollecting that in every man 
who went forth to the Crusades, or to any other 
strange adventure of humanity, was a whole 
human heart and brain, of like strength and 
weakness, like hopes, like temptations, with our 
own ; and find out what may have driven him 
mad, by considering what would have driven us 
mad in his place. 


May I be permitted to enlarge somewhat on 
this topic ? There is, as you are aware, a demand 
just now for philosophies of History. The general 
spread of Inductive Science has awakened this 
appetite ; the admirable contemporary French 
historians have quickened it by feeding it; till, 
the more order and sequence we find in the facts 
of the past, the more we wish to find. So it 
should be (or why was man created a rational 
being ?) and so it is ; and the requirements of the 
more educated are becoming so peremptory, that 
many thinking men would be ready to say (I 
should be sorry to endorse their opinion), that if 
History is not studied according to exact scien 
tific method, it need not be studied at all. 

A very able anonymous writer has lately ex 
pressed this general tendency of modern thought 
in language so clear and forcible that I must beg 
leave to quote it : 

' Step by step/ he says, ' the notion of evolu 
tion by law is transforming the whole field of our 
knowledge and opinion. It is not one order of 
conception which comes under its influence : but it 
is the whole sphere of our ideas, and with them 
the whole system of our action and conduct. Not 
the physical world alone is now the domain of in 
ductive science, but the moral, the intellectual, 
and the spiritual are being added to its empire. 
Two co-ordinate ideas pervade the vision of every 
thinker, physicist or moralist, philosopher or priest. 


In the physical and the moral world, in the natu 
ral and the human, are ever seen two forces 
invariable rule, and continual advance; law and 
action; order and progress; these two powers work 
ing harmoniously together, and the result, in 
evitable sequence, orderly movement, irresistible 
growth. In the physical world indeed, order is 
most prominent to our eyes; in the moral world 
it is progress, but both exist as truly in the one as 
in the other. In the scale of nature, as we rise 
from the inorganic to the organic, the idea of 
change becomes even more distinct; just as when 
we rise through the gradations of the moral world, 
the idea of order becomes more difficult to grasp. 
It was the last task of the astronomer to show 
eternal change even in the grand order of our So 
lar System. It is the crown of philosophy to see 
immutable law even in the complex action of hu 
man life. In the latter, indeed, it is but the first 
germs which are clear. No rational thinker hopes 
to discover more than some few primary actions 
of law, and some approximative theory of growth. 
Much is dark and contradictory. Numerous theo 
ries differing in method and degree are offered; 
nor do we decide between them, We insist now 
only upon this, that the principle of development in 
the moral, as in the physical, has been definitively 
admitted ; and something like a conception of one 
grand analogy through the whole sphere of know- 
ledge, has almost become a part of popular opinion. 


Most men shrink from any broad statement of the 
principle, though all in some special instances 
adopt it. It surrounds every idea of our life, and 
is diffused in every branch of study. The press, 
the platform, the lecture-room, and the pulpit ring 
with it in every variety of form. Unconscious pe 
dants are proving it. It flashes on the statistician 
through his registers ; it guides the hand of simple 
philanthropy; it is obeyed by the instinct of the 
statesman. There is not an act of our public life 
which does not acknowledge it. No man denies 
that there are certain, and even practical laws of 
political economy. They are nothing but laws of 
society. The conferences of social reformers, the 
congresses for international statistics and for social 
science bear witness of its force. Everywhere we 
hear of the development of the constitution, of 
public law, of public opinion, of institutions, of 
forms of society, of theories of history. In a word, 
whatever views of history may be inculcated on 
the Universities by novelists or epigrammatists, it 
is certain that the best intellects and spirits of our 
day are labouring to see more of that invariable 
order, and of that principle of growth in the life of 
human societies and of the great society of man 
kind which nearly all men, more or less, acknow 
ledge, and partially and unconsciously confirm/ 

This passage expresses admirably, I think, the 
tendencies of modern thought for good and evil. 

For good. For surely it is good, and a thing 


to thank God for, that men should be more and 
more expecting order, searching for order, welcom 
ing order. But for evil also. For young sciences, 
like young men, have their time of wonder, hope, 
imagination, and of passion too, and haste, and 
bigotry. Dazzled, and that pardonably, by the 
beauty of the few laws they may have discovered, 
they are too apt to erect them into gods, and to 
explain by them all matters in heaven and earth; 
and apt, too, as I think this author does, to patch 
them where they are weakest, by that most dan 
gerous succedaneum of vague and grand epithets, 
which very often contain, each of them, an assump 
tion far more important than the law to which 
they are tacked. 

Such surely are the words which so often occur 
in this passage ( Invariable, continual, immuta 
ble, inevitable, irresistible.' There is an ambiguity 
in these words, which may lead which I believe 
does lead to most unphilosophical conclusions. 
They are used very much as synonyms ; not merely 
in this passage, but in the mouths of men. Are 
you aware that those who carelessly do so, blink 
the whole of the world-old argument between ne 
cessity and free-will ? Whatever may be the rights 
of that quarrel, they are certainly not to be as 
sumed in a passing epithet. But what else does 
the writer do, who tells us that an inevitable se 
quence, an irresistible growth, exists in the moral 
as well as in the physical world; and then says, 


as a seemingly identical statement, that it is the 
crown of philosophy to see immutable law, even 
in the complex action of human life ? 

The crown of philosophy? Doubtless it is so. 
But not a crown, I should have thought, which 
has been reserved as the special glory of these 
latter days. Very early, at least in the known 
history of mankind, did Philosophy (under the 
humble names of Religion and Common Sense) 
see most immutable, and even eternal, laws, in the 
complex action of human life, even the laws of 
right and wrong ; and called them The Everlasting 
Judgments of God, to which a confused and hard- 
worked man was to look ; and take comfort, for all 
would be well at last. By fair induction (as I be 
lieve) did man discover, more or less clearly, those 
eternal laws : by repeated verifications of them in 
every age, man has been rising, and will yet rise, 
to clearer insight into their essence, their limits, 
their practical results. And if it be these, the old 
laws of right and wrong, which this author and his 
school call invariable and immutable, we shall, I 
trust, most heartily agree with them ; only wonder 
ing why a moral government of the world seems to 
them so very recent a discovery. 

But we shall not agree with them, I trust, 
when they represent these invariable and immu 
table laws as resulting in any inevitable sequence, 
or irresistible growth. "We shall not deny a se 
quence Reason forbids that; or again, a growth 


Experience forbids that: but we shall be puz 
zled to see why a law, because it is immutable 
itself, should produce inevitable results ; and if 
they quote the facts of material nature against us, 
we shall be ready to meet them on that very 
ground, and ask : You say that as the laws of 
matter are inevitable, so probably are the laws 
of human life ? Be it so : but in what sense are 
the laws of matter inevitable ? Potentially, or 
actually ? Even in the seemingly most uniform 
and universal law, where do we find the inevitable 
or the irresistible? Is there not in nature a per 
petual competition of law against law, force against 
force, producing the most endless and unexpected 
variety of results ? Cannot each law be interfered 
with at any moment by some other law, so that 
the first law, though it may struggle for the 
mastery, shall be for an indefinite time utterly 
defeated ? The law of gravity is immutable enough : 
but do all stones inevitably fall to the ground ? 
Certainly not, if I choose to catch one, and keep 
it in my hand. It remains there by laws; and 
the law of gravity is there too, making it feel 
heavy in my hand : but it has not fallen to the 
ground, and will not, till I let it. So much for 
the inevitable action of the laws of gravity, as of 
others. Potentially, it is immutable ; but actually 
it can be conquered by other laws. 

I really beg your pardon for occupying you 
here with such truisms : but I must put the stu- 


dents of this University in mind of them, as long as 
too many modern thinkers shall choose to ignore 

Even if then, as it seems to me, the history 
of mankind depended merely on physical laws, 
analogous to those which govern the rest of na 
ture, it would be a hopeless task for us to discover 
an inevitable sequence in History, even though 
we might suppose that such existed. But as long 
as man has the mysterious power of breaking the 
laws of his own being, such a sequence not only 
cannot be discovered, but it cannot exist. For 
man can break the laws of his own being, whether 
physical, intellectual, or moral. He breaks them 
every day, and has always been breaking them. 
The greater number of them he cannot obey till 
he knows them. And too many of them he can 
not know, alas, till he has broken them ; and 
paid the penalty of his ignorance. He does not, 
like the brute or the vegetable, thrive by laws 
of which he is not conscious: but by laws of 
which he becomes gradually conscious ; and which 
he can disobey after all. And therefore it seems 
to me very like a juggle of words to draw ana 
logies from the physical and irrational world, and 
apply them to the moral and rational world; and 
most unwise to bridge over the gulf between the 
two by such adjectives as ' irresistible ' or 'ine 
vitable,' such nouns as ' order, sequence, law' 
which must bear an utterly different meaning, 


according as they are applied to physical beings, or 
to moral ones. 

Indeed, so patent is the ambiguity, that I can 
not fancy that it has escaped the author and his 
school ; and am driven, by mere respect for their 
logical powers, to suppose that they mean no 
ambiguity at all ; that they do not conceive of 
irrational beings as differing from rational beings, 
or the physical from the moral, or the body of man 
from his spirit, in kind and property ; and that 
the immutable laws which they represent as govern 
ing human life and history have nothing at all 
to do with those laws of right and wrong, which I 
intend to set forth to you, as the ' everlasting 
j udgments of God/ 

In which case, I fear, they must go their way; 
while we go ours ; confessing that there is an order, 
and there is a law, for man; and that if he disturb 
that order, or break that law in anywise, they will 
prove themselves too strong for him, and reassert 
themselves, and go forward, grinding him to pow 
der if he stubbornly try to stop their way. But we 
must assert too, that his disobedience to them, even 
for a moment, has disturbed the natural course 
of events, and broken that inevitable sequence, 
which we may find indeed, in our own imagina 
tions, as long as we sit with a book in our studies : 
but which vanishes the moment that we step out 
side into practical contact with life; and, instead 
of talking cheerfully of a necessary and orderly 


progress, find ourselves more inclined to cry with 
the cynical man of the world : 

"All the windy ways of men, 

Are but dust that rises up ; 
And is lightly laid again." 

The usual rejoinder to this argument is to fall 
back upon man's weakness and ignorance, and to 
take refuge in the infinite unknown. Man, it is 
said, may of course interfere a little with some 
of the less important laws of his being : but who 
is he, to grapple with the more vast and remote 
ones ? Because he can prevent a pebble from 
falling, is he to suppose that he can alter the 
destiny of nations, and grapple forsooth with ' the 
eternities and the immensities/ and so forth ? The 
argument is very powerful : but addrest rather 
to the imagination than the reason. It is, after 
all, another form of the old omne ignotum pro 
magnifico ; and we may answer, I think fairly 
About the eternities and immensities we know 
nothing, not having been there as yet ; but it is 
a mere assumption to suppose, without proof, that 
the more remote and impalpable laws are more 
vast, in the sense of being more powerful (the 
only sense which really bears upon the argument), 
than the laws which are palpably at work around 
us all day long ; and if we are capable of inter 
fering with almost every law of human life which 
we know of already, it is more philosophical to 
believe (till disproved by actual failure) that we 


can interfere with those laws of our life which we 
may know hereafter. "Whether it will pay us to 
interfere with them, is a different question. It 
is not prudent to interfere with the laws of health, 
and it may not be with other laws, hereafter to 
be discovered. I am only pleading that man can 
disobey the laws of his being ; that such power 
has always been a disturbing force in the progress 
of the human race, which modern theories too 
hastily overlook ; and that the science of history 
(unless the existence of the human will be denied) 
must belong rather to the moral sciences, than to 
that e positive science' which seems to me inclined 
to reduce all human phenomena under physical 
Jaws, hastily assumed, by the old fallacy of pera- 
/3W el? a\\o 7eVo9, to apply where there is no 
proof whatsoever that they do or even can apply. 

As for the question of the existence of the 
human will I am not here, I hope, to argue that. 
I shall only beg leave to assume its existence, 
for practical purposes. I may be told (though 
I trust not in this University), that it is, like 
the undulatory theory of light, an unphilosophical 
' hypothesis.' Be that as it may, it is very con 
venient (and may be for a few centuries to come) 
to retain the said ' hypothesis,' as one retains the 
undulatory theory; and for the simple reason, 
that with it one can explain the phenomena 
tolerably; and without it cannot explain them 
at all. 


A dread (half-unconscious, it may be) of this 
last practical result, seems to have crossed the 
mind of the author on whom I have been com 
menting ; for he confesses, honestly enough (and 
he writes throughout like an honest man) that 
in human life 'no rational thinker hopes to dis 
cover more than some few primary actions of 
law, and some approximative theory of growth/ 
I have higher hopes of a possible science of 
history; because I fall back on those old moral 
laws, which I think he wishes to ignore : but I 
can conceive that he will not ; because he cannot, 
on his own definitions of law and growth. They 
are (if I understand him aright) to be irresistible 
and inevitable. I say that they are not so, even 
in the case of trees and stones ; much more in the 
world of man. Facts, when he goes on to verify 
his theories, will leave him with a very few 
primary actions of law, a very faint approximative 
theory; because his theories, in plain English, 
will not work. At the first step, at every step, 
they are stopped short by those disturbing forces, 
or at least disturbed phsenomena, which have been 
as yet, and probably will be hereafter, attributed 
(as the only explanation of them) to the existence, 
for good and evil, of a human will. 

Let us look in detail at a few of these dis 
turbances of anything like inevitable or irresistible 
movement. Shall we not, at the very first glance, 
confess I am afraid only too soon that there 

c 2 


always have been fools therein ; fools of whom no 
man could guess, or can yet, what they were 
going to do next or why they were going to 
do it? And how, pray, can we talk of the in 
evitable, in the face of that one miserable fact of 
human folly, whether of ignorance or of passion, 
folly still ? There may be laws of folly, as there 
are laws of disease ; and whether there are or not, 
we may learn much wisdom from folly; we may 
see what the true laws of humanity are, by seeing 
the penalties which come from breaking them : 
but as for laws which work of themselves, by an 
irresistible movement, how can we discover such 
in a past in which every law which we know has 
been outraged again and again ? Take one of 
the highest instances the progress of the human 
intellect I do not mean just now the spread of 
conscious science, but of that unconscious science 
which we call common sense. What hope have 
we of laying down exact laws for its growth, in 
a world wherein it has been ignored, insulted, 
crushed, a thousand times, sometimes in whole na 
tions and for whole generations, by the stupidity, 
tyranny, greed, caprice of a single ruler ; or if 
not so, yet by the mere superstition, laziness, 
sensuality, anarchy of the mob ? How, again, 
are we to arrive at any exact laws of the in 
crease of population, in a race which has had, 
from the beginning, the abnormal and truly mon 
strous habit of slaughtering each other, not for 


food for in a race of normal cannibals, the ratio 
of increase or decrease might easily be calcu 
lated but uselessly, from rage, hate, fanaticism, 
or even mere wantonness ? No man is less in 
clined than I to undervalue vital statistics, and 
their already admirable results : but how can they 
help us, and how can we help them, in looking 
at such a past as that of three-fourths of the 
nations of the world ? Look as a single instance 
among too many at that most noble nation of 
Germany, swept and stunned, by peasant wars, 
thirty years' wars, French wars, and after each 
hurricane, blossoming up again into brave industry 
and brave thought, to be in its turn cut off by 
a fresh storm ere it could bear full fruit : doing 
nevertheless such work, against such fearful dis 
advantages, as nation never did before ; and 
proving thereby what she might have done for 
humanity, had not she, the mother of all European 
life, been devoured, generation after generation, 
by her own unnatural children. Nevertheless, 
she is their mother still ; and her history, as I 
believe, the root-history of Europe : but it is hard 
to read the sibylline leaves are so fantastically 
torn, the characters so blotted out by tears and 

And if such be the history of not one nation 
only, but of the average, how, I ask, are we to 
make calculations about such a species as man ? 
Many modern men of science wish to draw the 


normal laws of human life from the average of 
humanity: I question whether they can do so; 
because I do not believe the average man to be 
the normal man, exhibiting the normal laws : but 
a very abnormal man, diseased and crippled, but 
even if their method were correct, it could work 
in practice, only if the destinies of men were al 
ways decided by majorities: and granting that the 
majority of men have common sense, are the mi 
nority of fools to count for nothing ? Are they 
powerless ? Have they had no influence on His 
tory ? Have they even been always a minority, 
and not at times a terrible majority, doing each 
that which was right in the sight of his own eyes ? 
You can surely answer that question for your 
selves. As far as my small knowledge of History 
goes, I think it may be proved from facts, that 
any given people, down to the lowest savages, has, 
at any period of its life, known far more than it 
has done ; known quite enough to have enabled it 
to have got on comfortably, thriven, and develop 
ed ; if it had only done, what no man does, all 
that it knew it ought to do, and could do. St 
Paul's experience of himself is true of all mankind 
'The good which I would, I do not; and the 
evil which I would not, that I do.' The discre 
pancy between the amount of knowledge and the 
amount of work, is one of the most patent and 
most painful facts which strikes us in the history 
of man ; and one not certainly to be explained on 


any theory of man's progress being the effect of 
inevitable laws, or one which gives us much hope 
of ascertaining fixed laws for that progress. 

And bear in mind, that fools are not always 
merely imbecile and obstructive ; they are at times 
ferocious, dangerous, mad. There is in human na 
ture what Gothe used to call a demoniac element, 
defying all law, and all induction; and we can, I 
fear, from that one cause, as easily calculate the 
progress of the human race, as we can calculate 
that of the vines upon the slopes of ^Etna, with 
the lava ready to boil up and overwhelm them at 
any and every moment. Let us learn, in God's 
name, all we can, from the short intervals of aver 
age peace and common sense: let us, or rather 
our grandchildren, get precious lessons from them 
for the next period of sanity. But let us not be 
surprised, much less disheartened, if after learning 
a very little, some unexpected and truly demoniac 
factor, Anabaptist war, French revolution, or 
other, should toss all our calculations to the winds, 
and set us to begin afresh, sadder and wiser men. 
We may learn, doubtless, even more of the real 
facts of human nature, the real laws of human 
history, from these critical periods, when the root- 
fibres of the human heart are laid bare, for good 
and evil, than from any smooth and respectable 
periods of peace and plenty : nevertheless their 
lessons are not statistical, but moral. 

But if human folly has been a disturbing force 


for evil, surely human reason has been a disturb 
ing force for good. Man can not only disobey the 
laws of his being, he can also choose between 
them, to an extent which science widens every 
day, and so become, what he was meant to be, 
an artificial being; artificial in his manufactures, 
habits, society, polity what not? All day long 
he has a free choice between even physical laws, 
which mere things have not, and which make the 
laws of mere things inapplicable to him. Take 
the simplest case. If he falls into the water, he 
has his choice whether he will obey the laws of 
gravity and sink, or by other laws perform the 
(to him) artificial process of swimming, and get 
ashore. True, both would happen by law : but he 
has his choice which law shall conquer, sink or 
swim. We have yet to learn why whole nations, 
why all mankind may not use the same prudential 
power as to which law they shall obey, which, 
without breaking it, they shall conquer and re 
press, as long as seems good to them. 

It is true, nature must be obeyed in order that 
she may be conquered : but then she is to be CON 
QUERED. It has been too much the fashion of late 
to travestie that great dictum of Bacon's into a 
very different one, and say, Nature must be obeyed 
because she cannot be conquered; thus proclaiming 
the impotence of science to discover anything save 
her own impotence a result as contrary to fact, 
as to Bacon's own hopes of what science would do 


for the welfare of the human race. For what is 
all human invention, but the transcending and 
conquering one natural law by another? What is 
the practical answer which all mankind has been 
making to nature and her -pretensions, whenever 
it has progressed one step since the foundation of 
the world : by which all discoverers have discover 
ed, all teachers taught: by which all polities, king 
doms, civilizations, arts, manufactures, have esta 
blished themselves; all who have raised themselves 
above the mob have faced the mob, and conquered 
the mob, crucified by them first and worshipped 
by them afterwards: by which the first savage 
conquered the natural law which put wild beasts 
in the forest, by killing them; conquered the na 
tural law which makes raw meat wholesome, by 
cooking it; conquered the natural law which made 
weeds grow at his hut door, by rooting them up, 
and planting corn instead ; and won his first spurs 
in the great battle of man against nature, proving 
thereby that he was a man, and not an ape? 
What but this? 'Nature is strong, but I am 
stronger. I know her worth, but I know my own. 
I trust her and her laws, but my trusty servant 
she shall be, and not my tyrant; and if she inter 
fere with my ideal, even with my personal com 
fort, then Nature and I will fight it out to the 
last gasp, and Heaven defend the right!' 

In forgetting this, in my humble -opinion, lay 
the error of the early, or laissez faire School of 


Political Economy. It was too much inclined to 
say to men : ' You are the puppets of certain na 
tural laws. Your own freewill and choice, if they 
really exist, exist merely as a dangerous disease. 
All you can do is to submit to the laws, and drift 
whithersoever they may carry you, for good or 
evil.' But not less certainly was the same blame to 
be attached to the French Socialist School. It, 
though based on a revolt from the Philosophie du 
neant, philosophic de la misere, as it used to term 
the laissez faire School, yet retained the worst fal 
lacy of its foe, namely, that man was the creature 
of circumstances ; and denied him just as much as 
its antagonist the possession of freewill, or at least 
the right to use freewill on any large scale. 

The laissez faire School was certainly the more 
logical of the two. With them, if man was the 
creature of circumstances, those circumstances were 
at least defined for him by external laws which he 
had not created : while the Socialists, with Fourier 
at their head (as it has always seemed to me), fell 
into the extraordinary paradox of supposing that 
though man was the creature of circumstances, he 
was to become happy by creating the very circum 
stances which were afterwards to create him. But 
both of them erred, surely, in ignoring that self- 
arbitrating power of man, by which he can, for 
good or for evil, rebel against and conquer circum 

I am not, surely, overstepping my province as 


Professor of History, in alluding to this subject. 
Just notions of Political Economy are absolutely 
necessary to just notions of History; and I should 
wish those young gentlemen who may attend my 
Lectures, to go first, were it possible, to my more 
learned brother, the Professor of Political Economy, 
and get from him not merely exact habits of 
thought, but a knowledge which I cannot give, 
and yet which they ought to possess. For to take 
the very lowest ground, the first fact of history is, 
Bouche va toujours; whatever men have or have 
not done, they have always eaten, or tried to eat ; 
and the laws which regulate the supply of the first 
necessaries of life are, after all, the first which 
should be learnt, and the last which should be 

The more modern school, however, of Political 
Economy while giving due weight to circumstance, 
has refused to acknowledge it as the force which 
ought to determine all human life ; and our great 
est living political economist has, in his Essay on 
Liberty, put in a plea unequalled since the Areo- 
pagitica of Milton, for the self-determining power 
of the individual, and for his right to use that 

But my business is not with rights, so much as 
with facts ; and as a fact, surely, one may say, that 
this inventive reason of man has been, in all ages, 
interfering with any thing like an inevitable se 
quence or orderly progress of humanity. Some of 


those writers, indeed, who are most anxious to dis 
cover an exact order, are most loud in their com 
plaints that it has been interfered with by over- 
legislation; and rejoice that mankind is returning 
to a healthier frame of mind, and leaving nature 
alone to her own work in her own way. I do not 
altogether agree with their complaints ; but of that 
I hope to speak in subsequent lectures. Mean 
while, I must ask, if (as is said) most good legisla 
tion now-a-days consists in repealing old laws 
which ought never to have been passed; if (as is 
said) the great fault of our forefathers was that 
they were continually setting things wrong, by 
intermeddling in matters political, economic, re 
ligious, which should have been let alone, to de 
velop themselves in their own way, what becomes 
of the inevitable laws, and the continuous pro 
gress, of the human mind ? 

Look again at the disturbing power, not mere 
ly of the general reason of the many, but of the 
genius of the few. I am not sure, but that the 
one fact, that genius is occasionally present in the 
world, is not enough to prevent our ever discover 
ing any regular sequence in human progress, past 
or future. 

Let me explain myself. In addition to the 
infinite variety of individual characters continually 
born (in itself a cause of perpetual disturbance), 
man alone of all species has the faculty of pro 
ducing, from time to time, individuals imrnea- 


surably superior to the average in some point or 
other, whom we call men of genius. Like Mr 
Babbage's calculating machine, human nature 
gives millions of orderly respectable common-place 
results, which any statistician can classify, and 
enables hasty philosophers to say It always has 
gone on thus; it must go on thus always; when 
behold, after many millions of orderly results, there 
turns up a seemingly disorderly, a certainly unex 
pected, result, and the law seems broken (being 
really superseded by some deeper law) for that 
once, and perhaps never again for centuries. Even 
so it is with man, and the physiological laws which 
determine the earthly appearance of men. Laws 
there are, doubt it not ; but they are beyond us : 
and let our induction be as wide as it may, they 
will baffle it; and great nature, just as we fancy 
we have found out her secret, will smile in our 
faces as she brings into the world a man, the like 
of whom we have never seen, and cannot explain, 
define, classify in one word, a genius. Such do, 
as a fact, become leaders of men into quite new 
and unexpected paths, and for good or evil, leave 
their stamp upon whole generations and races. 
Notorious as this may be, it is just, I think, what 
most modern theories of human progress ignore. 
They take the actions and the tendencies of the 
average many, and from them construct their 
scheme : a method not perhaps quite safe were 
they dealing with plants or animals; but what if 


it be the very peculiarity of this fantastic and 
altogether unique creature called man, not only 
that he develops, from time to time, these excep 
tional individuals, but that they are the most 
important individuals of all ? that his course is 
decided for him not by the average many, but 
by the extraordinary few; that one Mahommed, 
one Luther, one Bacon, one Napoleon, shall 
change the thoughts and habits of millions ? So 
that instead of saying that the history of mankind 
is the history of the masses, it would be much 
more true to say, that the history of mankind is 
the history of its great men ; and that a true 
philosophy of history ought to declare the laws 
call them physical, spiritual, biological, or what 
we choose by which great minds have been pro 
duced into the world, as necessary results, each in 
his place and time. 

That would be a science indeed; how far we 
are as yet from any such, you know as well as I. 
As yet, the appearance of great minds is as in 
explicable to us as if they had dropped among us 
from another planet. Who will tell us why they 
have arisen when they did, and why they did 
what they did, and nothing else ? I do not deny 
that such a science is conceivable ; because each 
mind, however great or strange, may be the result 
of fixed and unerring laws of life : and it is con 
ceivable, too, that such a science may so perfectly 
explain the past, as to be able to predict the future; 


and tell men when a fresh genius is likely to arise 
and of what form his intellect will be. Conceiv 
able : but I fear only conceivable ; if for no other 
reason, at least for this one. We may grant 
safely that the mind of Luther was the necessary 
result of a combination of natural laws. "We may 
go further, and grant, but by no means safely, 
that Luther was the creature of circumstances, 
that there was no self-moving originality in him, 
but that his age made him what he was. To 
some modern minds these concessions remove all 
difficulty and mystery : -but not, I trust, to our 
minds. For does not the very puzzle de quo 
agitur remain equally real; namely, why the aver 
age of Augustine monks, the average of German 
men, did not, by being exposed to the same aver 
age circumstances as Luther, become what Luther 
was ? But whether we allow Luther to have been a 
person with an originally different character from 
all others, or whether we hold him to have been 
the mere puppet of outside influences, the first 
step towards discovering how he became what he 
was, will be to find out what he was. It will 
be more easy, and, I am sorry to say, more com 
mon to settle beforehand our theory, and explain 
by it such parts of Luther as will fit it ; and call 
those which will not fit it hard names. History 
is often so taught, and the method is popular and 
lucrative. But we here shall be of opinion, I am 
sure, that we can only learn causes through their 


effects ; we can only learn the laws which produced 
Luther, by learning Luther himself; by analyzing 
his whole character ; by gauging all his powers ; 
and that unless the less can comprehend the 
greater we cannot do till we are more than 
Luther himself. I repeat it. None can compre 
hend a man, unless he be greater than that man. 
He must be not merely equal to him, because 
none can see in another elements of character 
which he has not already seen in himself: he must 
be greater ; because to comprehend him thoroughly, 
he must be able to judge the man's failings as 
well as his excellencies ; to see not only why he 
did what he did, but why he did not do more : in 
a word, he must be nearer than his object is to the 
ideal man. 

And if it be assumed that I am quibbling on 
the words 'comprehend* and 'greater/ that the 
observer need be greater only potentially, and 
not in act ; that all the comprehension required 
of him, is to have in himself the germs of other 
men's faculties, without having developed those 
germs in life ; I must still stand to my assertion. 
For such a rejoinder ignores the most mysterious 
element of all character, which we call strength: 
by virtue of which, of two seemingly similar 
characters, while one does nothing, the other shall 
do great things ; while in one the germs of in 
tellect and virtue remain comparatively embryotic, 
passive, and weak, in the other these same germs 


shall develop into manhood, action, success. And 
in what that same strength consists, not even the 
dramatic imagination of a Shakespeare could dis 
cover. What are those heart-rending sonnets of his, 
but the confession that over and above all his powers 
he lacked one thing, and knew not what it was, or 
where to find it and that was to be strong ? 

And yet he who will give us a science of great 
men, must begin by having a larger heart, a 
keener insight, a more varying human experience, 
than Shakespeare's own ; while those who offer 
us a science of little men, and attempt to explain 
history and progress by laws drawn from the 
average of mankind, are utterly at sea the moment 
they come in contact with the very men whose 
actions make the history, to whose thought the 
progress is due. And why ? Because (so at least 
I think) the new science of little men can be 
no science at all : because the average man is 
not the normal man, and never yet has been ; 
because the great man is rather the normal man, 
as approaching more nearly than his fellows to 
the true 'norma' and standard of a complete 
human character; and therefore to pass him by 
as a mere irregular sport of nature, an accidental 
giant with six fingers and six toes, and to turn to 
the mob for your theory of humanity, is (I think) 
about as wise as to ignore the Apollo and the 
Theseus, and to determine the proportions of the 
human figure from a crowd of dwarfs and cripples. 



No, let us not weary ourselves with narrow 
theories, with hasty inductions, which will, a 
century hence, furnish mere matter for a smile. 
Let us confine ourselves, at least in the present 
infantile state of the anthropologic sciences, to 
facts; to ascertaining honestly and patiently the 
thing which has been done ; trusting that if we 
make ourselves masters of them, some rays of 
inductive light will be vouchsafed to us from 
Him who truly comprehends mankind, and 
knows what is in man, because He is the Son 
of Man ; who has His own true theory of human 
progress, His own sound method of educating 
the human race, perfectly good, and perfectly 
wise, and at last, perfectly victorious; which 
nevertheless, were it revealed to us to-morrow, 
we could not understand ; for if he who 
would comprehend Luther must be more than 
Luther, what must he be, who would compre 
hend God? 

Look again, as a result of the disturbing force 
of genius, at the effects of great inventions how 
unexpected, complex, subtle, all but miraculous 
throwing out alike the path of human history, 
and the calculations of the student. If physical 
discoveries produced only physical or economic 
results if the invention of printing had only 
produced more books, and more knowledge if 
the invention of gunpowder had only caused more 
or less men to be killed if the invention of the 


spinning-jenny had only produced more cotton- 
stuffs, more employment, and therefore more 
human beings, then their effects would have 
been, however complex, more or less subjects of 
exact computation. 

But so strangely interwoven is the physical 
and spiritual history of man, that material inven 
tions produce continually the most unexpected 
spiritual results. Printing becomes a religious 
agent, causes not merely more books, but a 
Protestant Reformation ; then again, through the 
Jesuit literature, helps to a Romanist counter- 
reformation ; and by the clashing of the two, is 
one of the great causes of the Thirty Years' War, 
one of the most disastrous checks which European 
progress ever suffered. Gunpowder, again, not 
content with killing men, becomes unexpectedly 
a political agent; 'the villanous saltpetre/ as 
Ariosto and Shakespeare's fop complain, ' does to 
death many a goodly gentleman,' and enables 
the masses to cope, for the first time, with knights 
in armour ; thus forming a most important agent 
in the rise of the middle classes ; while the spin 
ning-jenny, not content with furnishing facts for 
the political economist, and employment for mil 
lions, helps to extend slavery in the United 
States, and gives rise to moral and political 
questions, which may have, ere they be solved, 
the most painful consequences to one of the 
greatest nations on earth. 


So far removed is the sequence of human his 
tory from any thing which we can call irresistible 
or inevitable. Did one dare to deal in epithets, 
crooked, wayward, mysterious, incalculable, would 
be those which would rather suggest themselves 
to a man looking steadily not at a few facts here 
and there, and not again at some hasty bird's-eye 
sketch, which he chooses to call a whole, but at 
the actual whole, fact by fact, step by step, and 
alas ! failure by failure, and crime by crime. 

Understand me, I beg. I do not wish (Heaven 
forbid!) to discourage inductive thought; I do 
not wish to undervalue exact science. I only ask 
that the moral world, which is just as much the 
domain of inductive science as the physical one, 
be not ignored ; that the tremendous difficulties of 
analyzing its phenomena be fairly faced ; and the 
hope given up, at least for the present, of forming 
any exact science of history; and I wish to warn 
you off from the too common mistake of trying to 
explain the mysteries of the spiritual world by a 
few roughly defined physical laws (for too much 
of our modern thought does little more than that) ; 
and of ignoring as old fashioned, or even super 
stitious, those great moral laws of history, which 
are sanctioned by the experience of ages. 

Foremost among them stands a law which I 
must insist on, boldly and perpetually, if I wish 
(as I do wish) to follow in the footsteps of Sir 
James Stephen : a law which man has been trying 


in all ages, as now, to deny, or at least to ignore; 
though he might have seen it if he had willed, 
working steadily in all times and nations. And 
that is that as the fruit of righteousness is wealth 
and peace, strength and honour; the fruit of un 
righteousness is poverty and anarchy, weakness 
and shame. It is an ancient doctrine, and yet one 
ever young. The Hebrew prophets preached it 
long ago, in words which are fulfilling themselves 
around us every day, and which no new discoveries 
of science will abrogate, because they express the 
great root-law, which disobeyed, science itself can 
not get a hearing. 

For not upon mind, gentlemen, not upon 
mind, but upon morals, is human welfare found 
ed. The true subjective history of man is the 
history not of his thought, but of his conscience ; 
the true objective history of man is not that of 
his inventions, but of his vices and his virtues. 
So far from morals depending upon thought, 
thought, I believe, depends on morals. In pro 
portion as a nation is righteous, in proportion as 
common justice is done between man and man, will 
thought grow rapidly, securely, triumphantly ; will 
its discoveries be cheerfully accepted, and faith 
fully obeyed, to the welfare of the whole common 
weal. But where a nation is corrupt, that is, 
where the majority of individuals in it are bad, 
and justice is not done between man and man, 
there thought will wither, and science will be 


either crushed by frivolity and sensuality, or abused 
to the ends of tyranny, ambition, profligacy, till 
she herself perishes, amid the general ruin of all 
good things; as she has done in Greece, in Rome, 
in Spain, in China, and many other lands. Laws 
of economy, of polity, of health, of all which 
makes human life endurable, may be ignored and 
trampled under foot, and are too often, every day, 
for the sake of present greed, of present passion ; 
self-interest may become, and will become, more 
and more blinded, just in proportion as it is not 
enlightened by virtue; till a nation may arrive, 
though, thank God, but seldom, at that state of 
frantic recklessness which Salvian describes among 
his Roman countrymen in Gaul, when, while the 
Franks were thundering at their gates, and starved 
and half-burnt corpses lay about the unguarded 
streets, the remnant, like that in doomed Jeru 
salem of old, were drinking, dicing, ravishing, rob 
bing the orphan and the widow, swindling the 
poor man out of his plot of ground, and sending 
meanwhile to the tottering Csesar at Rome, to 
ask, not for armies, but for Circensian games. 

We cannot see how science could have bettered 
those poor Gauls. And we can. conceive, surely, 
a nation falling into the same madness, and cry 
ing, ' Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die,' 
in the midst of railroads, spinning-jennies, electric 
telegraphs, and crystal palaces, with infinite blue- 
books and scientific treaties ready to prove to 


them, what they knew perfectly well already, that 
they w^ere making a very unprofitable investment, 
both of money and of time. 

For science indeed is great : but she is not 
the greatest. She is an instrument, and not a 
power ; beneficent or deadly, according as she is 
wielded by the hand of virtue or of vice. But 
her lawful mistress, the only one which can use 
her aright, the only one under whom, she can truly 
grow, and prosper, and prove her divine descent, 
is Virtue, the likeness of Almighty God. This, 
indeed, the Hebrew Prophets, who knew no sci 
ence in one sense of the word, do not expressly 
say : but it is a corollary from their doctrine, 
which we may discover for ourselves, if we will 
look at the nations round us now, if we will look 
at all the nations which have been. Even Vol 
taire himself acknowledged that ; and when he 
pointed to the Chinese as the most prosperous 
nation upon earth, ascribed their prosperity uni 
formly to their virtue. We now know that he 
was wrong in fact : for we have discovered that 
Chinese civilization is one not of peace and plenty, 
but of anarchy and wretchedness. But that fact 
only goes to corroborate the belief, which (strange 
juxtaposition !) was common to Voltaire and the 
old Hebrew Prophets at whom he scoffed, namely, 
that virtue is wealth, and vice is ruin. For we 
have found that these Chinese, the ruling classes 
of them at least, are an especially unrighteous 


people ; rotting upon the rotting remnants of the 
wisdom and virtue of their forefathers, which now 
live only on their lips in flowery maxims about 
justice and mercy and truth, as a cloak for prac 
tical hypocrisy and villany ; and we have disco 
vered also, as a patent fact, just what the Hebrew 
Prophets would have foretold us that the mise 
ries and horrors which are now destroying the 
Chinese Empire, are the direct and organic re 
sults of the moral profligacy of its inhabitants. 

I know no modern nation, moreover, which 
illustrates so forcibly as China the great historic 
law which the Hebrew Prophets proclaim ; and 
that is this : That as the prosperity of a nation 
is the correlative of their morals, so are their 
morals the correlative of their theology. As a 
people behaves, so it thrives ; as it believes, so 
it behaves. Such as his Gods are, such will the 
man be ; down to that lowest point which too 
many of the Chinese seem to have reached, where, 
having no Gods, he himself becomes no man ; 
but (as I hear you see him at the Australian 
diggings) abhorred for his foul crimes even by 
the scum of Europe. 

I do not say that the theology always pro 
duces the morals, any more than that the morals 
always produce the theology. Each is, I think, 
alternately cause and effect. Men make the Gods 
in their own likeness; then they copy the like 
ness they have set up. But whichever be cause, 


and whichever effect, the law, I believe, stands true, 
that on the two together depends the physical wel 
fare of a people. History gives us many examples, 
in which superstition, many again in which pro 
fligacy, have been the patent cause of a nation's 
degradation. It does not, as far as I am aware, give 
us a single case of a nation's thriving and developing 
when deeply infected with either of those two vices. 
These, the broad and simple laws of moral re 
tribution, we may see in history; and (I hope) 
something more than them; something of a gene 
ral method, something of an upward progress, 
though any thing but an irresistible or inevitable 
one. For I have not argued that there is no 
order, no progress God forbid. Were there no 
order to be found, what could the student with 
a man's reason in him do, but in due time go 
mad ? Were there no progress, what could the 
student with a man's heart within him do, but 
in due time break his heart, over the sight of a 
chaos of folly and misery irredeemable ? I only 
argue that the order and the progress of human 
history cannot be similar to those which govern 
irrational beings, and cannot (without extreme 
danger) be described by metaphors (for they are 
nothing stronger) drawn from physical science. If 
there be an order, a progress, they must be moral; 
fit for the guidance of moral beings ; limited by 
the obedience which those moral beings pay to 
what thev know. 


And such an order, such a progress as that, I 
have good hope that we shall find in history. 

We shall find, as I believe, in all the ages, 
God educating man; protecting him till he can go 
alone, furnishing him with the primary necessaries, 
teaching him, guiding him, inspiring him, as we 
should do to our children ; bearing with him, and 
forgiving him too, again and again, as we should 
do : but teaching him withal (as we shall do if we be 
wise) in great part by his own experience, making 
him test for himself, even by failure and pain, the 
truth of the laws which have been given him ; dis 
cover for himself, as much as possible, fresh laws, 
or fresh applications of laws; and exercising his 
will and faculties, by trusting him to himself wher 
ever he can be trusted without his final destruction. 
This is my conception of history, especially of Mo 
dern History of history since the Revelation of 
our Lord Jesus Christ. I express myself feebly 
enough, I know. And even could I express what 
1 mean perfectly, it would still be but a partial 
analogy, not to be pushed into details. As I said 
just now, were the true law of human progress 
revealed to us to-morrow, we could not under 
stand it. 

For suppose that the theory were true, which 
Dr Temple of Rugby has lately put into such 
noble words : suppose that, as he says, * The power 
whereby the present ever gathers into itself the 
results of the past, transforms the human race into 


a colossal man, whose life reaches from the creation 
to the day of judgment. The successive genera 
tions of men, are days in this man's life. The 
discoveries andlhiventions which characterize the 
different epochs of the world, are this man's works. 
The creeds and doctrines, the opinions and princi 
ples of the successive ages, are his thoughts. The 
state of society at different times, are his manners. 
He grows in knowledge, in self-control, in visible 
size, just as we do.' Suppose all this; and suppose 
too, that God is educating this his colossal child, 
as we educate our own children; it will hardly 
follow from thence that his education would be, as 
Dr Temple says it is, precisely similar to ours. 

Analogous it may be, but not precisely similar ; 
and for this reason: That the collective man, in 
the theory, must be infinitely more complex in his 
organization than the individuals of which he is 
composed. While between the educator of the one 
and of the other, there is simply the difference be 
tween a man and God. How much more complex 
then must his education be ! how all-inscrutable to 
human minds much in it! often as inscrutable as 
would our training of our children seem to the 
bird brooding over her young ones in the nest. 
The parental relations in all three cases may be 
the Scriptures say that they are expansions of 
the same great law; the key to all history may be 
contained in those great words ' How often would 
I have gathered thy children as a hen gathereth 


her chickens under her wings/ Yet even there 
the analogy stops short 'but thou wouldest not' 
expresses a new element, which has no place in the 
training of the nestling by the dam, though it has 
place in our training of our children ; even that 
self-will, that power of disobedience, which is the 
dark side of man's prerogative as a rational and 
self-cultivating being. Here that analogy fails, as 
we should have expected it to do; and in a hun 
dred other points it fails, or rather transcends so 
utterly its original type, that mankind seems, at 
moments, the mere puppet of those laws of natural 
selection, and competition of species, of which we 
have heard so much of late; and, to give a single 
instance, the seeming waste, of human thought, of 
human agony, of human power, seems but another 
instance of that inscrutable prodigality of nature, 
by which, of a thousand acorns dropping to the 
ground, but one shall become the thing it can be 
come, and grow into a builder oak, the rest be 
craunched up by the nearest swine. 

Yet these dark passages of human life may be 
only necessary elements of the complex education 
of our race; and as much mercy under a fearful 
shape, as ours when we put the child we love 
under the surgeon's knife. At least we may be 
lieve so ; believe that they have a moral end, though 
that end be unseen by us ; and without any rash or 
narrow prying into final causes (a trick as fatal to 
historic research as Bacon said it was to science), 


we may justify God by faith, where we cannot jus 
tify Him by experience. 

Surely this will be the philosophic method. If 
we seem to ourselves to have discovered a law, we 
do not throw it away the moment we find phseno- 
mena which will not be explained by it. We use 
those phenomena to correct and to expand our 
law. And this belief that History is t God edu 
cating man/ is no mere hypothesis; it results from 
the observation of thousands of minds, throughout 
thousands of years. It has long seemed I trust 
it will seem still the best explanation of the 
strange deeds of that strange being man: and 
where we find in history facts which seem to con 
tradict it, we shall not cast away rashly or angrily 
either it or them : but if we be Bacon's true disci 
ples, we shall use them patiently and reverently to 
correct and expand our notions of the law itself, 
and rise thereby to more deep and just conceptions 
of education, of man, and it may be of God 

In proportion as we look at history thus ; 
searching for effective, rather than final causes, 
and content to see God working everywhere, 
without impertinently demanding of Him a rea 
son for His deeds, we shall study in a frame 
of mind equally removed from superstition on the 
one hand, and necessitarianism on the other. We 
shall not be afraid to confess natural agencies : 
but neither shall we be afraid to confess those 


supernatural causes which underlie all existence, 
save God's alone. 

"We shall talk of more than of an over-ruling 
Providence. That such exists, will seem to us 
a patent fact. But it will seem to us some 
what Manichaean to believe that the world is 
ill made, mankind a failure, and that all God 
has to do with them, is to set them right here 
and there, when* they go intolerably wrong. We 
shall believe not merely in an over-ruling Provi 
dence, but (if I may dare to coin a word) in an 
under-ruling one, which has fixed for mankind 
eternal laws of life, health, growth, both physical 
and spiritual^ in an around-ruling Providence, 
likewise, by which circumstances, that which 
stands around a man, are perpetually arranged, 
it may be, are fore-ordained, so that each law 
shall have at least an opportunity of taking effect 
on the right person, in the right time and place ; 
and in an in-ruling Providence, too, from whose- 
inspiration comes all true thought, all right feel 
ing ; from whom, we must believe, man alone 
of all living things known to us inherits that 
mysterious faculty of perceiving the law beneath 
the phenomena, by virtue of which he is a man. 

But we can hold all this, surely, and equally 
hold all which natural science may teach us. 
Hold what natural science teaches ? We shall 
not dare not to hold it. It will be sacred in 
our eyes. All light which science, political, 


economic, physiological, or other, can throw upon 
the past, will be welcomed by us, as coming from 
the Author of all light. To ignore it, even to 
receive it suspiciously and grudgingly, we shall 
feel to be a sin against Him. We shall dread 
no ' inroads of materialism;' because we shall be 
standing upon that spiritual ground which under 
lies ay, causes the material. All discoveries 
of science, whether political or economic, whether 
laws of health or laws of climate, will be accepted 
trustfully and cheerfully. And when we meet with 
such startling speculations as those on the influ 
ence of climate, soil, scenery on national character, 
which have lately excited so much controversy, 
we shall welcome them at first sight, just because 
they give us hope of order where we had seen 
only disorder, law where we fancied chance : we 
shall verify them patiently; correct them if they 
need correction ; and if proven, believe that they 
have worked, and still work, OVK avev Qeou, as 
factors in the great method of Him who has 
appointed to all nations their times, and the 
bounds of their habitation, if haply they might 
feel after Him, and find Him : though He be 
not far from any one of them ; for in Him we 
live, and move, and have our being, and are 
the offspring of God Himself. 

I thus end what it seemed to me proper to say 
in this, my Inaugural Lecture ; thanking you 
much for the patience with which you have heard 


me : and if I have in it too often spoken of myself, 
and my own opinions, I can only answer that it is 
a fault which has been forced on me by my po 
sition, and which will not occur again. It seemed 
to me that some sort of statement of my belief was 
necessary, if only from respect to a University 
from which I have been long separated, and to 
return to which is to me a high honour and a 
deep pleasure; and I cannot but be aware (it is 
best to be honest) that there exists a prejudice 
against me in the minds of better men than I am, 
on account of certain early writings of mine. That 
prejudice, I trust, with God's help, I shall be able 
to dissipate. At least whatever I shall fail in 
doing, this University will find that I shall do one 
thing; and that is, obey the Apostolic precept, 
' Study to be quiet, and to do your own business.' 

I have now to announce, that my lectures will 
commence the first week in next February, and be 
spread over the Lent and Easter terms; and that, 
meanwhile, if any Undergraduates wish to become 
members of my Class, I shall be most happy to 
see them at my own house, on Mondays, Wednes 
days, or Fridays, at the hour of twelve, and tell 
them what books it seems to me they ought to 
read: always premising, that Gibbon, whether I 
may agree or disagree with him in details, will 
form the text-book on which they will be ex 
amined by me. 



I WISH in this first lecture to give you some ge 
neral conception of the causes which urged our Teu 
tonic race to attack and destroy Rome. I shall 
take for this one lecture no special text-book : but 
suppose you all to be acquainted with the Germania 
of Tacitus, and with the pth Chapter of Gibbon. 
And I shall begin, if you will allow me, by a 
parable, a myth, a saga, such as the men of whom 
I am going to tell you loved; and if it seem to 
any of you childish, bear in mind that what is 
childish need not therefore be shallow. I know 
that it is not history. These lectures will not be, 
in the popular sense, history at all. But I beg 
you to bear in mind that I am not here to teach 
you history. No man can do that. I am here to 
teach you how to teach yourselves history. I will 
give you the scaffolding as well as I can ; you must 
build the house. 



Fancy to yourself a great Troll- garden, such as 
our forefathers dreamed of often fifteen hundred 
years ago ; a fairy palace, with a fairy garden ; 
and all around the primaeval wood. Inside 
the Trolls dwell, cunning and wicked, watching 
their fairy treasures, working at their magic forges, 
making and making always things rare and 
strange ; and outside, the forest is full of children ; 
such children as the world had never seen before, 
but children still : children in frankness, and purity, 
and affectionateness, and tenderness of conscience, 
and devout awe of the unseen ; and children too in 
fancy, and silliness, and ignorance, and caprice, 
and jealousy, and quarrelsomeness, and love of 
excitement and adventure, and the mere sport of 
overflowing animal health. They play unharmed 
among the forest beasts, and conquer them in 
their play : but the forest is too dull and too poor 
for them ; and they wander to the w r alls of the 
Troll-garden, and wonder what is inside. One can 
conceive easily for oneself what from that moment 
would begin to happen. Some of the more ad 
venturous clamber in. Some, too, the Trolls 
steal and carry off into their palace. Most never 
return : but here and there one escapes out again, 
and tells how the Trolls killed all his comrades : 
but tells too, of the wonders he has seen inside, of 
shoes of swiftness, and swords of sharpness, and 
caps of darkness ; of charmed harps, charmed 
jewels, and above all of the charmed wine : and after 


all, the Trolls were very kind to him see what 
fine clothes they have given him and he struts 
about awhile among his companions ; and then 
returns, and not alone. The Trolls have bewitched 
him, as they will bewitch more. So the fame of 
the Troll-garden spreads ; and more and more 
steal in, boys and maidens, and tempt their com 
rades over the wall, and tell of the jewels, and the 
dresses, and the wine, the joyous maddening wine, 
which equals men with gods ; and forget to tell 
how the Trolls have bought them, soul as well as 
body, and taught them to be vain, and lustful, and 
slavish ; and tempted them, too often, to sins which 
have no name. 

But their better nature flashes out at times. 
They will not be the slaves and brutes in human 
form, which the evil Trolls would have them ; 
and they rebel, and escape, and tell of the horrors 
of that fair foul place. And then arises a noble 
indignation, and war between the Trolls and the 
forest-children. But still the Trolls can tempt 
and bribe the greedier or the more vain ; and still 
the wonders inside haunt their minds ; till it 
becomes a fixed idea among them all, to conquer 
the garden for themselves and bedizen themselves 
in the fine clothes, and drink their fill of the wine. 
Again and again they break in : but the Trolls 
drive them out, rebuild their walls, keep off those 
outside by those whom they hold enslaved with 
in; till the boys grow to be youths, and the 



youths men : and still the Troll-garden is not 
conquered, and still it shall be. And the Trolls 
have grown old and weak, and their walls are 
crumbling away. Perhaps they may succeed this 
time perhaps next. 

And at last they do succeed the fairy walls 
are breached, the fairy palace stormed and the 
Trolls are crouching at their feet, and now all will 
be theirs, gold, jewels, dresses, arms, all that the 
Troll possesses except his cunning. 

For as each struggles into the charmed ground, 
the spell of the place falls on him. He drinks the 
wine, and it maddens him. He fills his arms with 
precious trumpery, and another snatches it from 
his grasp. Each envies the youth before him, each 
cries Why had I not the luck to enter first ? And 
the Trolls set them against each other, and split 
them into parties, each mad with excitement, and 
jealousy, and wine, till, they scarce know how, 
each falls upon his fellow, and all upon those who 
are crowding in from the forest, and they fight 
and fight, up and down the palace halls, till their 
triumph has become a very feast of the Lapithse, 
and the Trolls look on, and laugh a wicked laugh, 
as they tar them on to the unnatural fight, till 
the gardens are all trampled, the finery torn, the 
halls dismantled, and each pavement slippery with 
brothers' blood. And then, when the wine is gone 
out of them, the survivors come to their senses, 
and stare shamefully and sadly round. What an 


ugly, desolate, tottering ruin the fairy palace has 
become ! Have they spoilt it themselves ? or 
have the Trolls bewitched it? And all the fairy 
treasure what has become of it ? no man knows. 
Have they thrown it away in their quarrel ? have 
the cunningest hidden it? have the Trolls flown 
away with it, to the fairy land beyond the Eastern 
mountains ? who can tell ? Nothing is left but 
recrimination and remorse. And they wander back 
again into the forest, away from the doleful ruin, 
carrion-strewn, to sulk each apart over some petty 
spoil which he has saved from the general wreck, 
hating and dreading each the sound of his neigh 
bour's footstep. 

What will become of the forest children, unless 
some kind saint or hermit comes among them, to 
bind them in the holy bonds of brotherhood and 

This is my saga, gentlemen ; and it is a true 
one withal. For it is neither more nor less than 
the story of the Teutonic tribes, and how they 
overthrew the Empire of Rome. 

Menzel, who though he may not rank very 
high as a historian, has at least a true German 
heart, opens his history with a striking passage, 

"The sages of the east were teaching wisdom 
beneath the palms ; the merchants of Tyre and 
Carthage were weighing their heavy anchors, and 
spreading their purple sails for far seas; the 
Greek was making the earth fair by his art, and the 


Roman founding his colossal empire of force, while 
the Teuton sat, yet a child, unknown and naked 
among the forest beasts : and yet unharmed and 
in his sport he lorded it over them ; for the child 
was of a royal race, and destined to win glory for 
all time to come." 

To the strange and complicated education 
which God appointed for this race ; and by which 
he has fitted it to become, at least for many 
centuries henceforth, the ruling race of the world, 
I wish to call your attention in my future lectures. 
To-day, I wish to impress strongly on your minds 
this childishness of our forefathers. For good 
or for evil they were great boys ; very noble 
boys ; very often very naughty boys as boys 
with the strength of men might well be. Try to 
conceive such to yourselves, and you have the old 
Markman, Allman, Goth, Lombard, Saxon, Frank. 
And the notion may be more than a mere meta 
phor. Races, like individuals, it has been often 
said, may have their childhood, their youth, their 
manhood, their old age, and natural death. It is 
but a theory perhaps nothing more. But at 
least, our race had its childhood. Their virtues, 
and their sad failings, and failures, I can under 
stand on no other theory. The nearest type 
which we can see now is, I fancy, the English 
sailor, or the English navvy. A great, simple, 
honest, baby full of power and fun, very coarse 
and plain spoken at times : but if treated like a 


human being, most affectionate, susceptible, even 
sentimental and superstitious ; fond of gambling, 
brute excitement, childish amusements in the in 
tervals of enormous exertion ; quarrelsome among 
themselves, as boys are, and with a spirit of wild 
independence which seems to be strength ; but 
which, till it be disciplined into loyal obedience 
and self-sacrifice, is mere weakness ; and beneath 
all a deep practical shrewdness, an indomitable 
perseverance, when once roused by need. Such a 
spirit as we see to this day in the English sailor 
that is the nearest analogue I can find now. 
One gets hints here and there of what manner of 
men they were, from the evil day, when, one hun 
dred and two years before Christ, the Kempers 
and Teutons, ranging over the Alps toward Italy, 
300,000 armed men and 15,000 mailed knights 
with broad sword and lances, and in their helmets 
the same bulls'-horns, wings, and feathers, which 
one sees now in the crests of German princes, 
stumbled upon Marius and his Romans, and were 
destroyed utterly, first the men, then the women, 
who like true women as they were, rather than 
give up their honour to the Romans, hung them 
selves on the horns of the waggon-oxen, and were 
trampled to death beneath their feet ; and then 
the very dogs, who fought on when men and 
women were all slain from that fatal day, down 
to the glorious one, when, five hundred years after, 
Alaric stood beneath the walls of Rome, and to 


their despairing boast of the Roman numbers, an 
swered, "Come out to us then, the thicker the 
hay, the easier mowed," for five hundred years, 
I say, the hints of their character are all those 
of a boy-nature. 

They were cruel at times : but so are boys 
much more cruel than grown men, I hardly know 
why perhaps because they have not felt suffer 
ing so much themselves, and know not how hard 
it is to bear. There were varieties of character 
among them. The Franks were always false, vain, 
capricious, selfish, taking part with the Romans 
whenever their interest or vanity was at stake 
the worst of all Teutons, though by no means 
the weakest and a miserable business they made 
of it in France, for some five hundred years. The 
Goths, Salvian says, were the most ignavi of all of 
them; great lazy lourdans ; apt to be cruel, too, the 
Visigoths at least, as their Spanish descendants 
proved to the horror of the world : but men of 
honour withal, as those old Spaniards were. The 
Saxons were famed for cruelty I know not why, 
for our branch of the Saxons has been, from the 
beginning of history, the least cruel people in 
Europe ; but they had the reputation as the 
Vandals had also of being the most pure ; Cas- 
titate venerandi. And among uncivilized people 
coldness and cruelty go often together. The less 
passionate and sensitive the nature, the less open 
to pity. The Caribs of the West Indies were famed 


for both, in contrast to the profligate and gentle 
inhabitants of Cuba and Hispaniola ; and in 
double contrast to the Eed Indian tribes of North 
America, who combined, from our first acquaint 
ance with them, the two vices of cruelty and 
profligacy, to an extent which has done more to 
extirpate them than all the fire-water of the 
white man. 

But we must be careful how we compare our 
forefathers with these, or any other savages. Those 
who, like Gibbon, have tried to draw a parallel 
between the Eed Indian and the Primaeval 
Teuton, have done so at the expense of facts. 
First, they have overlooked the broad fact that 
while the Eed Indians have been, ever since we 
have known them, a decreasing race, the Teutons 
have been a rapidly increasing one ; in spite of 
war, and famine, and all the ills of a precarious 
forest life, proving their youthful strength and 
vitality by a reproduction unparalleled, as far as 
I know, in history, save perhaps by that noble 
and young race, the Eussian. These writers have 
not known that the Teuton had his definite laws, 
more simple, doubtless, in the time of Tacitus 
than in that of Justinian, but still founded on 
abstract principles so deep and broad that they 
form the groundwork of our English laws and con 
stitution; that the Teuton creed concerning the 
unseen world, and divine beings, was of a loftiness 
and purity as far above the silly legends of 


Hiawatha as the Teuton morals were above those 
of a Sioux or a Comanche. Let any one read 
honest accounts of the Red Indians ; let him 
read Catlin, James, Lewis and Clarke, Shoolbred ; 
and first and best of all, the old 'Travaile in 
Virginia/ published by the Hakluyt Society : and 
then let him read the Germania of Tacitus, and 
judge for himself. For my part, I believe that 
if Gibbon was right, and if our forefathers in the 
German forests had been like Powhattan's people 
as we found them in the Virginian forests, the 
Romans would not have been long in civilizing 
us off the face of the earth. 

No. All the notes which Tacitus gives us are 
notes of a young and strong race; unconscious of 
its own capabilities, but possessing such capabili 
ties that the observant Romans saw at once with 
dread and awe that they were face to face with 
such a people as they had never met before; that 
in their hands, sooner or later, might lie the 
fate of Rome. Mad Caracalla, aping the Teuton 
dress and hair, listening in dread to the songs of 
the Allman Alrunas, telling the Teutons that they 
ought to come over the Rhine and destroy the 
empire, and then, murdering the interpreters, lest 
they should repeat his words, was but babbling 
out in an insane .shape the thought which was 
brooding in the most far-seeing Roman minds. 
He felt that they could have done the deed; and 
he felt rightly, madman as he was. They could 


have done it then, if physical power and courage 
were all that was needed, in the days of the All- 
man war. They could have done it a few years 
before, when the Markmen fought Marcus Aure- 
lius Antoninus ; on the day when the Caesar, at 
the advice of his augurs, sent two lions to swim 
across the Danube as a test of victory; and the 
simple Markmen took them for big dogs, and 
killed them with their clubs. From that day, 
indeed, the Teutons began to conquer slowly, but 
surely. Though Antoninus beat the Markmen on 
the Danube, and recovered 100,000 Eoman pri 
soners, yet it was only by the help of the Vandals ; 
from that day the empire was doomed, and the 
Teutons only kept at bay by bribing one tribe to 
fight another, or by enlisting their more adven 
turous spirits into the Roman legions, to fight 
against men of their own blood ; a short-sighted 
and suicidal policy; for by that very method they 
were teaching the Teuton all he needed, the dis 
cipline and the military science of the Roman. 

But the Teutons might have done it a hundred 
years before that, when Rome was in a death 
agony, and Vitellius and Vespasian were struggling 
for the purple, and Civilis and the fair Velleda, 
like Barak and Deborah of old, raised the Teuton 
tribes. They might have done it before that 
again, when Hermann slew Varus and his legions 
in the Teutoburger Wald ; or before that again, 
when the Kempers and Teutons burst over the 


Alps, to madden themselves with the fatal wines 
of the rich south. And why did the Teutons not 
do it ? Because they were boys fighting against 
cunning men. Boiorich, the young Kemper, riding 
down to Marius' camp, to bid him fix the place and 
time of battle for the Teuton thought it mean to 
use surprises and stratagems, or to conquer save 
in fair and open fight is the type of the Teuton 
hero ; and one which had no chance in a struggle 
with the cool, false, politic Roman, grown grey 
in the experience of the forum and of the camp, 
and still as physically brave as his young enemy. 
Because, too, there was no unity among them ; no 
feeling that they were brethren of one blood. Had 
the Teuton tribes, at any one of the great crises 
I have mentioned, and at many a crisis afterwards, 
united for but three years, under the feeling of a 
common blood, language, interest, destiny, Rome 
would have perished. But they could not learn 
that lesson. They could not put aside their boyish 

They never learnt the lesson till after their 
final victory, when the Gospel of Christ of a 
being to whom they all owed equal allegiance, in 
whose sight they were all morally equal came to 
unite them into a Christendom. 

And it was well that they did not learn it 
sooner. "Well for them and for the world, that 
they did not unite on any false ground of interest 
or ambition, but had to wait for the true ground 


of unity, the knowledge of the God-man, King 
of all nations upon earth. 

Had they destroyed Rome sooner, what would 
not they have lost ? What would not the world 
have lost ? Christianity would have been stifled in 
its very cradle ; and with Christianity all chance 
be sure of it of their own progress. Roman 
law, order, and discipline, the very things which 
they needed to acquire by a contact of five hun 
dred years, would have been swept away. All 
classic literature and classic art, which they learnt 
to admire with an almost superstitious awe, would 
have perished likewise. Greek philosophy, the 
germs of physical science, and all that we owe to 
the ancients, would have perished; and we should 
have truly had an invasion of the barbarians, 
followed by truly dark ages, in which Europe 
would have had to begin all anew, without the 
help of the generations which had gone before. 

Therefore it was well as it was, and God was 
just and merciful to them and to the human 
race. They had a glorious destiny, and glorious 
powers wherewith to fulfil it : but they had, as 
every man and people has, before whom there is 
a noble future, to be educated by suffering. There 
was before them a terrible experience of sorrow 
and disappointment, sin and blood, by which they 
gained the first consciousness of what they could 
do and what they could not. Like Adam of old, 
like every man unto this day, they ate of the tree 


of the knowledge of good and evil, and were driven 
out of the paradise of unconsciousness ; they had 
to begin again sadder and wiser men, and eat their 
bread in the sweat of their brow; and so to rise, 
after their fall, into a nobler, wiser, more artificial, 
and therefore more truly human and divine life, 
than that from which they had at first fallen, when 
they left their German wilds. 

One does not, of course, mean the parallel to 
fit in all details. The fall of the Teuton from the 
noble simplicity in which Tacitus beheld and 
honoured him, was a work of four centuries; per 
haps it was going on in Tacitus' own time. But 
the culminating point was the century which saw 
Italy conquered, and Rome sacked, by Visigoth, 
by Ostrogoth, by Vandal, till nothing was left save 
fever-haunted ruins. Then the ignorant and greedy 
child, who had been grasping so long after the 
fair apples of Sodom, clutched them once and for 
ail, and found them turn to ashes in his hands. 

Yes it is thus that I wish you to look at the 
Invasion of the Barbarians, Immigration of the 
Teutons, or whatsoever name you may call it. 
Before looking at questions of migration, of eth 
nology, of laws, and of classes, look first at the 
thing itself; and see with sacred pity and awe, 
one of the saddest and grandest tragedies ever 
performed on earth. Poor souls ! And they were 
so simple withal. One pities them, as one pities 
a child who steals apples, and makes himself sick 


with them after all. It is not the enormous loss 
of life which is to me the most tragic part of the 
story; it is that very simplicity of the Teutons. 
Bloodshed is a bad thing, certainly; but after 
all nature is prodigal of human life killing her 
twenty thousand and her fifty thousand by a 
single earthquake; and as for death in battle 
I sometimes am tempted to think, having sat by 
many death beds, that our old forefathers may 
have been right, and that death in battle may be 
a not unenviable method of passing out of this 
troublesome world. Besides, we have no right to 
blame those old Teutons, while we are killing 
every year more of her Majesty's subjects by 
preventible disease, than ever they killed in their 
bloodiest battle. Let us think of that, and mend 
that, ere we blame the old German heroes. No, 
there are more pitiful tragedies than any battle 
field can shew ; and first among them, surely, is 
the disappointment of young hopes, the degrada 
tion of young souls. 

One pities them, I say. And they pitied 
themselves. Remorse, shame, sadness, mark the 
few legends and songs of the days which followed 
the fall of Rome. They had done a great work. 
They had destroyed a mighty tyranny; they had 
parted between them the spoils wrung from all the 
nations ; they had rid the earth of a mighty man- 
devouring ogre, whose hands had been stretched out 
for centuries over all the earth, dragging all virgins 


to his den, butchering and torturing thousands for 
his sport ; foul, too, with crimes for which their 
language, like our own (thank God) has scarcely 
found a name. Babylon the Great, drunken with 
the blood of the saints, had fallen at last before the 
simple foresters of the north : but if it looks a tri 
umph to us, it looked not such to them. They 
could only think how they had stained their hands 
in their brothers' blood. They had got the fatal 
Nibelungen hoard : but it had vanished between 
their hands, and left them to kill each other, till 
none was left. 

You know the Nibelungen Lied? That ex 
presses, I believe, the key-note of the old Teuton's 
heart, after his work was done. Siegfried murder 
ed by his brother-in-law ; fair Chriemhild turned 
into an avenging fury ; the heroes hewing each 
other down, they scarce know why, in Hunnish 
Etzel's hall, till Hagen and Gunther stand alone ; 
Dietrich of Bern going in, to bind the last surviving 
heroes; Chriemhild shaking Hagen's gory head in 
Gunther's face, herself hewed down by the old 
Hildebrand, till nothing is left but stark corpses 
and vain tears : while all the while the Nibelungen 
hoard, the cause of all the woe, lies drowned in the 
deep Rhine until the judgment day. What is all 
this, but the true tale of the fall of Rome, of the 
mad quarrels of the conquering Teutons ? The 
names are confused, mythic; the dates and places 
all awry : but the tale is true too true. Mutato 


nomine fabula narratur. Even so they went on, 
killing, till none were left. Deeds as strange, horri 
ble, fratricidal, were done, again and again, not 
only between Frank and Goth, Lombard and Gepid, 
but between Lombard and Lombard, Frank and 
Frank. Yes, they were drunk with each other's 
blood, those elder brethren of ours. Let us thank 
God that we did not share their booty, and 
perish, like them, from the touch of the fatal 
Nibelungen hoard. Happy for us Englishmen, 
that we were forced to seek our adventures here, 
in this lonely isle ; to turn aside from the great 
stream of Teutonic immigration; and settle here, 
each man on his forest-clearing, to till the ground 
in comparative peace, keeping unbroken the old 
Teutonic laws, unstained the old Teutonic faith and 
virtue, cursed neither with poverty nor riches, but 
fed with food sufficient for us. To us, indeed, 
after long centuries, peace brought sloth, and sloth 
foreign invaders and bitter woes : but better so, 
than that we should have cast away alike our vir 
tue and our lives, in that mad quarrel over the 
fairy gold of Rome. 



IT is not for me to trace the rise, or even the 
fall of the Roman Empire. That would be the 
duty rather of a professor of ancient history, than 
of modern. All I need do is to sketch as shortly 
as I can, the state in which the young world 
found the old, when it came in contact with it. 

The Roman Empire, toward the latter part of 
the fourth century, was in much the same condi 
tion as the Chinese or the Turkish Empire in our 
own days. Private morality (as Juvenal and 
Persius will tell you) had vanished long before. 
Public morality had, of course, vanished likewise. 
The only powers really recognised were force and 
cunning. The only aim was personal enjoyment. 
The only God was the Divus Csesar, the imperial 
demigod, whose illimitable brute force gave him 
illimitable powers of self-enjoyment, and made him 
thus the paragon and ideal of humanity, whom 


all envied, flattered, hated, and obeyed. The 
palace was a sink of corruption, where eunuchs, 
concubines, spies, informers, freedmen, adventurers, 
struggled in the basest plots, each for his share 
of the public plunder. The senate only existed 
to register the edicts of their tyrant, and if need 
be, destroy each other, or any one else, by judicial 
murders, the willing tools of imperial cruelty. The 
government was administered (at least since the 
time of Diocletian) by an official bureaucracy, of 
which Professor Goldwin Smith well says, "the 
earth swarmed with the consuming hierarchy of 
extortion, so that it was said that they who re 
ceived taxes were more than those who paid 
them." The free middle class had disappeared, or 
lingered in the cities, too proud to labour, fed 
on government bounty, and amused by govern 
ment spectacles. With them, arts and science 
had died likewise. Such things were left to slaves, 
and became therefore, literally, servile imitations 
of the past. What, indeed, was not left to slaves ? 
Drawn without respect of rank, as well as of 
sex and age, from every nation under heaven by 
an organized slave-trade, to which our late Afri 
can one was but a tiny streamlet compared with a 
mighty river; a slave-trade which once bought 
10,000 human beings in Delos in a single day; 
the ' servorum nationes' were the only tillers of 
the soil, of those 'latifundia' or great estates, 
'quae perdidere Romam.' Denied the rights of 

2 2 


marriage ; the very name of humanity ; protected 
by no law, save the interest or caprice of their 
masters; subjected, for slight offences, to cruel 
torments, they were butchered by thousands in the 
amphitheatres to make a Roman holiday, or wore 
out their lives in ' ergastula' or barracks, which 
were dens of darkness and horror. Their owners, 
as ' senatores/ ' clarissimi/ or at least ' curiales/ 
spent their lives in the cities, luxurious and effe 
minate, and left their slaves to the tender mercy 
of 'villici/ stewards and gang-drivers, who were 
themselves slaves likewise. 

More pampered, yet more degraded, were the 
crowds of wretched beings, cut off from all the 
hopes of humanity, who ministered to the wicked 
pleasures of their masters, even in the palaces 
of nominally Christian emperors but over that 
side of Roman slavery I must draw a veil, only 
saying, that the atrocities of the Romans toward 
their slaves especially of this last and darkest 
kind notably drew down on them the just wrath 
and revenge of those Teutonic nations, from which 
so many of their slaves were taken 1 . 

1 The early romancers, and especially Achilles Tatius, give pic 
tures of Roman prsedial slavery too painful to quote. Roman domes 
tic slavery is not to be described by the pen of an Englishman. And 
I must express my sorrow, that in the face of such notorious facts, 
some have of late tried to prove American slavery to be as bad as, or 
even worse than, that of Rome. God forbid ! Whatsoever may have 
been the sins of the Southern gentleman, he is at least a Teuton, and 
not a Roman ; a whole moral heaven above the effeminate wretch, 
who in the 4th and 5th centuries called himself a senator and a 


And yet they called themselves Christians 
to whom it had been said, "Be not deceived, 
God is not mocked. For these things cometh 
the wrath of God on the children of disobedience." 
And the wrath did come. 

If such were the morals of the Empire, what 
was its political state? One of complete disor 
ganization. The only uniting bond left seems to 
have been that of the bureaucracy, the commu 
nity of tax-gatherers, who found it on the whole 
safer and more profitable to pay into the imperial 
treasury a portion of their plunder, than to keep 
it all themselves. It stood by mere vi inertise, 
just because it happened to be there, and there 
was nothing else to put in its place. Like an old 
tree whose every root is decayed, it did not fall, 
simply because the storm had not yet come. 
Storms, indeed, had come ; but they had been 
partial and local. One cannot look into the pages 
of Gibbon, without seeing that the normal con 
dition of the empire was one of revolt, civil war, 
invasion Pretenders, like Carausius and Allec- 
tus in Britain, setting themselves up as emperors 
for awhile Bands of brigands, like the Bagaudae 
of Gaul, and the Circumcelliones of Africa, wan 
dering about, desperate with hunger and revenge, 
to slay and pillage Teutonic tribes making 
forays on the frontier, enlisted into the Roman 
armies, and bought off, or hired to keep back 


the tribes behind them, and perish by their bre 
thren's swords. 

What kept the empire standing, paradoxical as 
it may seem, was its own innate weakness. From 
within, at least, it could not be overthrown. The 
masses were too crushed to rise. Without unity, 
purpose, courage, they submitted to inevitable mise 
ry as to rain and thunder. At most they destroyed 
their own children from poverty, or, as in Egypt, 
fled by thousands into the caves and quarries, 
and turned monks and hermits; while the upper 
classes, equally without unity or purpose, said each 
to himself, "Let us eat and drink, for to-mor 
row we die." 

The state of things at Rome, and after the 
rise of Byzantium under Constantino at Byzan 
tium likewise, was one altogether fantastic, abnor 
mal, utterly unlike anything that we have seen, 
or can imagine to ourselves without great effort. 
I know no better method of illustrating it, than 
quoting, from Mr Sheppard's excellent book, The 
Fall of Rome and the Rise of New Nationalities, 
a passage in which he transfers the whole comi- 
tragedy from Italy of old to England in 1861. 

"I have not thought it necessary to give a 
separate and distinct reply to the theory of Mr 
Congreve, that Roman Imperialism was the type 
of all good government, and a desirable precedent 
for ourselves. Those who feel any penchant for 


the notion, I should strongly recommend to read 
the answer of Professor G. Smith, in the Oxford 
Essays for 1856, which is as complete and crush 
ing as that gentleman's performances usually are. 
But in order to convey to the uninitiated some 
idea of the state of society under Caesarian rule, 
and which a Caesarian rule, so far as mere govern 
ment is concerned, if it does not produce, has never 
shewn any tendency to prevent, let us give reins 
to imagination for a moment, and picture to our 
selves a few social and political analogies in our 
own England of the nineteenth century. 

" An entire revolution has taken place in our 
principles, manners, and form of government. 
Parliaments, meetings and all the ordinary expres 
sions of the national will, are no longer in exist 
ence. A free press has shared their fate. There 
is no accredited organ of public opinion ; indeed 
there is no public opinion to record. Lords and 
Commons have been swept away, though a num 
ber of the richest old gentlemen in London meet 
daily at Westminster to receive orders from Buck 
ingham Palace. But at the palace itself has broken 
out one of those sanguinary conspiracies which 
have of late become unceasing. The last heir of 
the house of Brunswick is lying dead with a dag 
ger in his heart, and everything is in frightful 
confusion. The armed force of the capital are of 
course ' masters of the situation/ and the Guards, 
after a tumultuous meeting at Windsor or Knights- 


bridge, have sold the throne to Baron Rothschild, 
for a handsome donation of 25 a-piece. Lord 
Clyde, however, we may be sure, is not likely to 
stand this, and in a few months will be marching 
upon London at the head of the Indian Army. 
In the mean time the Channel Fleet has declared 
for its own commander, has seized upon Plymouth 
and Portsmouth, and intends to starve the metro 
polis by stopping the imports of ' bread-stuffs' 
at the mouth of the Thames. And this has be 
come quite possible; for half the population of 
London, under the present state of things, subsist 
upon free distributions of corn dispensed by the 
occupant of the throne for the time being. But 
a more fatal change than even this has come over 
the population of the capital and of the whole 
country. The free citizens and 'prentices of Lon 
don; the sturdy labourers of Dorsetshire and the 
eastern counties ; and the skilful artizans of Man 
chester, Sheffield arid Birmingham; the mariners 
and shipwrights of Liverpool, have been long ago 
drafted into marching regiments, and have left 
their bones to bleach beneath Indian suns and 
Polar snows. Their place has been supplied by 
countless herds of negro slaves, who till the fields 
and crowd the workshops of our towns, to the 
entire exclusion of free labour ; for the free popu 
lation, or rather the miserable relics of them, dis 
dain all manual employment : they divide their 
time between starvation and a degrading debauch- 


ery, the means for which are sedulously provided 
by the government. The time-honoured institu 
tions of the bull-bait, the cock-pit, and the ring, 
are in daily operation, under the most distinguish 
ed patronage. Hyde Park has been converted 
into a gigantic arena, where criminals from New 
gate ' set to' with the animals from the Zoolo 
gical Gardens. Every fortnight there is a Derby 
Day, and the whole population pour into the 
Downs with frantic excitement, leaving the city 
to the slaves. And then the moral condition of 
this immense mass! Of the doings about the 
palace we should be sorry to speak. But the lady 
patronesses of Almack's still more assiduously 
patronize the prize-fights, and one of them has 
been seen within the ropes, in battle array, by 
the side of Sayers himself. No tongue may tell 
the orgies enacted, with the aid of French cooks, 
Italian singers, and foreign artistes of all sorts, 
in the gilded saloons of Park Lane and Mayfair. 
Suffice to say, that in them the worst passions 
of human nature have full swing, unmodified by 
any thought of human or divine restraints, and 
only dashed a little now and then by the appre 
hension that the slaves may rise, and make a dean 
sweep of the metropolis with fire and steel. But 
n'importe Vive la bagatelle! Mario has just 
been appointed prime minister, and has made a 
chorus singer from the Opera Duke of Middlesex 
and Governor-General of India, AH wise men 


and all good men despair of the state, but they are 
not permitted to say anything, much less to act. 
Mr Disraeli lost his head a few days ago; Lords 
Palmerston and Derby lie in the Tower under 
sentence of death; Lord Brougham, the Arch 
bishop of Canterbury, and Mr Gladstone, opened 
their veins and died in a warm bath last week. 
Foreign relations make a still greater demand on 
the reader's imagination. "We must conceive of 
England no longer as 

' A precious stone set in the silver sea, 
Which serves it in the office of a wall, 
Or as a moat defensive of a house ;' 

but rather as open to the inroad of every foe whom 
her aggressive and colonizing genius has pro 
voked. The red man of the West, the CafFre, the 
Sikh, and the Sepoy, Chinese braves, and fierce 
orientals of all sorts, are hovering on her frontiers 
in 'numbers numberless,' as the flakes of snow 
in the northern winter. They are not the impo 
tent enemy which we know, but vigorous races, 
supplied from inexhaustible founts of population, 
and animated by an insatiate appetite for the gold 
and silver, purple and fine linen, rich meats and 
intoxicating drinks of our effete civilization. And 
we can no longer oppose them with those victori 
ous legions which have fought and conquered in 
all regions of the world. The men of Waterloo 
and Inkermann are no more. We are compelled 


to recruit our armies from those very tribes before 
whose swords we are receding ! 

" Doubtless the ordinary reader will believe this 
picture to be overcharged, drawn with manifest 
exaggeration, and somewhat questionable taste. 
Every single statement ivhich it contains may be 
paralleled by the circumstances and events of the 
decadence of the Roman Empire. The analogous 
situation was with the subjects of this type of all 
good government, always a possible, often an ac 
tual, state of things. We think this disposes of 
the theory of Mr Congreve. "With it may ad 
vantageously be contrasted the opinion of a man 
of more statesman-like mind. 'The benefits of 
despotism are short-lived ; it poisons the very 
springs which it lays open; if it display a merit, 
it is an exceptional one ; if a virtue, it is created 
of circumstances ; and when once this better hour 
has passed away, all the vices of its nature break 
forth with redoubled violence, and weigh down 
society in every direction/ So writes M. Guizot. 
Is it the language of prophecy as well as of per 
sonal experience ?" 

Mr Sheppard should have added, to make 
the picture complete, that the Irish have just es 
tablished popery across St George's Channel, by 
the aid of re-immigrants from America ; that Free 
Kirk and National Kirk are carrying on a san 
guinary civil war in Scotland; that the Devon 
shire Wesley an s have just sacked Exeter cathe- 


dral, and murdered the Bishop at the altar, 
while the Bishop of London, supported by the 
Jews and the rich churchmen (who are all mixed 
up in financial operations with Baron Rothschild) 
has just commanded all dissenters to leave the 
metropolis within three days, under pain of death. 
I must add yet one more feature to this 
fearful, but accurate picture, and say how, a 
few generations forward, an even uglier thing 
would be seen. The English aristocracy would 
have been absorbed by foreign adventurers. The 
grandchildren of these slaves and mercenaries 
would be holding the highest offices in the state 
and the army, naming themselves after the mas 
ters who had freed them, or disguising their bar 
barian names by English endings. The De Fung- 
Chowvilles would be Dukes, the Little-grizzly- 
bear-Joe-Smiths Earls, and the Fitz-Stanleysons, 
descended from a king of the gipsies who enlisted 
to avoid transportation, and in due time became 
Commander-in-Chief, would rule at Knowsley in 
place of the Earl of Derby, having inherited the 
same by the summary process of assassination. 
Beggars on horseback, only too literall} 7 " ; married, 
most of them, to Englishwomen of the highest 
rank; but looking on England merely as a prey ; 
without patriotism, without principle; they would 
destroy the old aristocracy by legal murders, grind 
the people, fight against their yet barbarian 
cousins outside, as long as they were in luck : but 


the moment the luck turned against them, would 
call in those barbarian cousins to help them, and 
invade England every ten years with heathen 
hordes, armed no more with tulwar and match 
lock, but with Enfield rifle and Whitworth can 
non. And that, it must be agreed, would be about 
the last phase of the British empire. If you will 
look through the names which figure in the high 
places of the Roman empire, during the fourth 
and fifth centuries, you will see how few of them 
are really Roman. If you will try to investigate, 
not their genealogies for they have none not a 
grandfather among them but the few facts of 
their lives which have come down to us; you 
will see how that Nemesis had fallen on her which 
must at last fall on every nation which attempts 
to establish itself on slavery as a legal basis. Home 
had become the slave of her own slaves. 

It is at this last period, the point when Rome 
has become the slave of her own slaves, that I 
take up the story of our Teutonic race. 

I do not think that anyone will call either Mr 
Sheppard's statements, or mine, exaggerated, who 
knows the bitter complaints of the wickedness and 
folly of the time, which are to be found in the 
writings of the Emperor Julian. Pedant and apo 
state as he was, he devoted his short life to one 
great idea, the restoration of the Roman Empire 
to what it had been (as he fancied) in the days 
of the virtuous stoic Emperors of the second cen- 


tury. He found his dream a dream, owing to the 
dead heap of frivolity, sensuality, brutality, utter 
unbelief, not merely in the dead Pagan gods whom 
he vainly tried to restore, but in any god at all, as a 
living, ruling, judging, rewarding, punishing power. 

No one, again, will call these statements ex 
aggerated who knows the Roman history of his 
faithful servant and soldier, Ammianus Marcel- 
linus, and especially the later books of it, in which 
he sets forth the state of the Empire after Ju 
lian's death, under Jovian, Procopius, Valentinian, 
(who kept close to his bedchamber two she-bears 
who used to eat men, one called Golden Camel, 
and the other Innocence which latter, when she 
had devoured a sufficiency of his living victims, 
he set free in the forests as a reward for her ser 
vices a brutal tyrant, whose only virtue seems 
to have been his chastity) ; and Valens, the shame 
less extortioner who perished in that great battle 
of Adrian ople, of which more hereafter. The last 
five remaining books of the honest soldier's story 
are a tissue of horrors, from reading which one 
turns away as from a slaughter-house or a witches' 

No one, again, will think these statements ex 
aggerated who knows Salvian's De Gubernatione 
Dei. It has been always and most justly held 
in high esteem, as one great authority of the state 
of Gaul when conquered by the Franks and Goths 
and Vandals. 


Salvian was a Christian gentleman, born some 
where near Treves. He married a Pagan lady 
of Cologne, converted her, had by her a daughter, 
and then persuaded her to devote herself to celi 
bacy, while he did the like. His father-in-law, 
Hypatius, quarrelled with him on this account ; 
and the letter in which he tries to soothe the old 
man is still extant, a curious specimen of the style 
of cultivated men in that day. Salvian then went 
down to the south of France and became a priest 
at Marseilles, and tutor to the sons of Eucherius, 
the Bishop of Lyons. Eucherius, himself a good 
man, speaks in terms of passionate admiration of 
Salvian, his goodness, sanctity, learning, talents. 
Gennadius (who describes him as still living when 
he wrote, about 490) calls him among other 
encomiums, the Master of Bishops; and both 
mention familiarly this very work, by which he 
became notorious in his own day, and which he 
wrote about 450 or 455, during the invasion of the 
Britons. So that we may trust fully that we 
have hold of an authentic contemporaneous work, 
written by a good man and true. 

Let me first say a few words on the fact of his 
having as many good men did then separated 
from his wife in order to lead what was called a 
religious life. It has a direct bearing on the 
History of those days. One must not praise him 
because he (in common with all Christians of his 
day) held, no doubt, the belief that marriage was 


a degradation in itself; that though the Church 
might mend it somewhat by exalting it into a 
sacrament, still, the less of a bad thing the better : 
a doctrine against which one need not use (thank 
God) in England, the same language which 
Michelet has most justly used in France. We, 
being safe from the poison, can afford to talk of it 
calmly. But I boldly assert, that few more prac 
tically immoral doctrines than that of the dignity 
of celibacy and the defilement of marriage, (which 
was the doctrine of all Christian devotees for 1000 
years) have, as far as I know, ever been preached 
to man. That is a strong statement. It will be 
answered perhaps, by the patent fact, that during 
those very 1000 years the morality of Europe 
improved more, and more rapidly, than it had 
ever done before. I know it ; and I thank God 
for it. But I adhere to my statement, and rejoin 
And how much more rapidly have the morals of 
Europe improved, since that doctrine has been 
swept away; and woman, and the love of woman, 
have been restored to their rightful place in the 
education of man ? 

But if we do not praise Salvian, we must not 
blame him, or any one else who meant to be an 
honest and good man. Such did not see to what 
their celibate notions would lead. If they had, 
we must believe that they would have acted 
differently. And what is more, their preference 
for celibacy was not fancy, but common sense of a 


very lofty kind. Be sure that when two middle- 
aged Christian people consider it best to part, 
they have very good reasons for such a solemn 
step, at which only boys or cynics will laugh. 
And the reasons, in Salvian's case, and many 
more in his day, are patent to common human 
understanding. Do not fancy that he had any 
private reason, such as we should very fairly 
assign now : public reasons, and those, such as 
God grant no living man may see, caused wise 
men to thank God that they were not burdened 
with wife and child. Eemember the years in 
which Salvian lived from 416 perhaps to 490. 
It was a day of the Lord such as Joel saw ; ' a 
day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morn- 
ning spread upon the mountains; a great people 
and strong ; there had not been ever the like, 
neither should be any more after it ; the land was 
a garden of Eden before them, and behind them 
a desolate wilderness : Yea, and nothing should 
escape them.' All things were going to wrack ; 
the country was overrun by foreign invaders ; 
bankruptcy, devastation, massacre, and captivity 
were for perhaps 100 years the normal state of 
Gaul, and of most other countries besides. I have 
little doubt that Salvian was a prudent man, when 
he thought fit to bring no more human beings 
into the world. That is an ugly thought I trust 
that you feel how ugly, unnatural, desperate a 
thought it is. If you do not, think over it till 



you do, till it frightens you. You will gain a 
great step thereby in human sympathy, and 
therefore in the understanding of history. For 
many times, and in many places, men have said, 
rightly or wrongly, 'It is better to leave none 
behind me like myself. The miseries of life (and 
of what comes after this life) are greater than 
its joys. I commit an act of cruelty by bringing 
a fresh human being into the world/ I wish you 
to look at that thought steadily, and apply it for 
yourselves. It has many applications : and has 
therefore been a very common one. 

But put to yourselves it is too painful for me 
to put to you the case of a married gentleman 
who sees his country gradually devastated and 
brought to utter ruin by foreign invaders ; and 
who feels as poor Salvian felt, that there is no 
hope or escape ; that the misery is merited, de 
served, fairly earned (for that is the true meaning 
of those words), and therefore must come. Con 
ceive him seeing around him estates destroyed, 
farms burnt, ladies and gentlemen, his own friends 
and relations, reduced in an hour to beggary, 
plundered, stript, driven off in gangs I do not 
choose to finish the picture : but ask yourselves, 
would an honourable man wish to bring sons 
much more daughters into the world to endure 

Put yourselves in Salvian's place. Forget for 
a few minutes that you are Englishmen, the freest 


and bravest nation upon earth, strong in all that 
gives real strength, and with a volunteer army 
which is now formidable by numbers and courage 
which, did the terrible call come, might be in 
creased ten times in as many months. Forget all 
that awhile; and put yourselves in Salvian's place, 
the gentleman of Gaul, while Franks and Goths, 
Burgunds and Vandals were sweeping, wave 
after wave, over that lovely land ; and judge him 
rationally, and talk as little as possible of his 
superstition, and as much as possible of his human 
feeling, prudence, self-control, and common sense. 
Believe me, neither celibacy, nor any other seem 
ingly unnatural superstition would have held its 
ground for a generation, if there had not been 
some practical considerations of common sense to 
back them. We wonder why men in old times 
went into monasteries. The simplest answer is, 
common sense sent them thither. They were tired 
of being the slaves of their own passions; they 
were tired of killing, and of running the chance of 
being killed. They saw society, the whole world, 
going to wrack, as they thought, around them: 
what could they do better, than see that their own 
characters, morals, immortal souls, did not go to 
wrack with the rest. We wonder why women, 
especially women of rank, went into convents ; 
why, as soon as a community of monks was 
founded, a community of nuns sprung up near 
them. The simplest answer is, common sense sent 



them thither. The men, especially of the upper 
fighting classes, were killed off rapidly ; the women 
were not killed off, and a large number always 
remained, who, if they had wished to marry, could 
not. What better for them than to seek in con 
vents that peace which this world could not give ? 

They may have mixed up with that simple wish 
for peace the notion of being handmaids of God, 
brides of Christ, and so forth. Be it so. Let us 
instead of complaining, thank heaven that there 
was some motive, whether quite right or not, to 
keep alive in them self-respect, and the feeling that 
they were not altogether useless and aimless on 
earth. Look at the question in this light, and you 
will understand two things ; first, how horrible the 
times were, and secondly, why there grew up in 
the early middle age a passion for celibacy. 

Salvian, in a word, had already grown up to 
manhood and reason, when he saw a time come to 
his native country, in which were fulfilled, with 
fearful exactness, the words of the prophet 
Isaiah : 

6 Behold, the Lord maketh the land empty, and 
maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and 
scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. And it 
shall be, as with the people, so with the priest ; as 
with the slave, so with his master ; as with the 
maid, so with her mistress ; as with the seller, so 
with the buyer ; as with the lender, so with the 
borrower ; as with the taker of usury, so with the 


giver of usury to him. The land shall be utterly 
emptied, and utterly spoiled ; for the Lord hath 
spoken this word.' 

And Salvian desired to know the reason why 
the Lord had spoken that word, and read his 
Bible till he found out, and wrote thereon his book 
De Gubernatione Dei, of the government of God ; 
and a very noble book it is. He takes his stand 
on the ground of Scripture, with which he shews 
an admirable acquaintance. The few good were 
expecting the end of the world. Christ was coming 
to put an end to all these horrors : but why did he 
delay his coming ? The many weak were crying 
that God had given up the world; that Christ 
had deserted his Church, and delivered over 
Christians to the cruelties of heathen and Arian 
barbarians. The many bad were openly blas 
pheming, throwing off in despair all faith, all 
bonds of religion, all common decency, and crying, 
Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. 
Salvian answers them like an old Hebrew prophet : 
'The Lord's arm is not shortened. The Lord's 
eyes are not closed. The Lord is still as near as 
ever. He is governing the world as He has always 
governed it: by the everlasting moral laws, by 
which the wages of sin are death. Your iniquities 
have withheld good things from you. You have 
earned exactly what God has paid you. Yourselves 
are your own punishment. You have been wicked 
men, and therefore weak men ; your own vices, 


and not the Goths, have been your true con 
querors.' As I said in my inaugural lecture that 
is after all the true theory of history. Men may 
forget it in piping times of peace. God grant 
that in the dark hour of adversity, God may 
always raise up to them a prophet, like good old 
Salvian, to preach to them once again the ever 
lasting judgments of God ; and teach them that 
not faulty constitutions, faulty laws, faulty cir 
cumstances of any kind, but the faults of their 
own hearts and lives, are the causes of their 

M. Guizot, in his elaborate work on the His 
tory of Civilization in France, has a few curious 
pages, on the causes of the decline of civil society 
in Roman Gaul, and its consequent weakness and 
ruin. He tells you how the Senators or Claris- 
simi did not constitute a true aristocracy, able 
to lead and protect the people, being at the mercy 
of the Emperor, and nominated and removed 
at his pleasure. How the Curiales, or wealthy 
middle class, who were bound by law to fulfil all 
the municipal offices, and were responsible for the 
collection of the revenue, found their responsi 
bilities so great, that they by every trick in their 
power, avoided office. How, as M. Guizot well 
puts it, the central despotism of Rome stript the 
Curiales of all they earned, to pay its own func 
tionaries and soldiers ; and gave them the power of 
appointing magistrates, who were only after all the 


imperial agents of that despotism, for whose sake 
they robbed their fellow-citizens. How the plebs, 
comprising the small tradesmen and free artizans, 
were utterly unable to assert their own opinions 
or rights. How the slave population, though 
their condition was much improved, constituted a 
mere dead weight of helpless brutality. 

And then he says, that the Eoman Empire 
was dying. Very true: but often as he quotes 
Salvian, he omits always to tell us what Roman 
society was dying of. Salvian says, that it was 
dying of vice. Not of bad laws and class arrange 
ments, but of bad men. M. Guizot belongs to a 
school which is apt to impute human happiness and 
prosperity too exclusively to the political constitu 
tion under which they may happen to live irre 
spectively of the morality of the people them 
selves. From that, the constitutionalist school, 
there has been of late a strong reaction, the high 
est exponent, nay the very coryphaeus of which is 
Mr Carlyle. He undervalues, even despises, the 
influence of laws and constitutions : with him 
private virtue, from which springs public virtue, 
is the first and sole cause of national prosperity. 
My inaugural lecture has told you how deeply I 
sympathize with his view taking my stand, as 
Mr Carlyle does, on the Hebrew prophets. 

There is, nevertheless, a side of truth in the 
constitutionalist view, which Mr Carlyle, I think, 
overlooks. A bad political constitution does pro- 



duce poverty and weakness : but only in as far as 
it tends to produce moral evil ; to make men bad. 
That it can help to do. It can put a premium on 
vice, on falsehood, on peculation, on laziness, on 
ignorance; and thus tempt the mass to moral de 
gradation, from the premier to the slave. Russia 
has been, for two centuries now but too patent 
a proof of the truth of this assertion. But teven 
in this case, the moral element is the most im 
portant, and just the one which is overlooked. 
To have good laws, M. Guizot is apt to forget, 
you must first have good men to make them; and 
second, you must have good men to carry them 
out, after they are made. Bad men can abuse 
the best of laws> the best of constitutions. Look 
at the working of our parliaments during the 
reigns of William III. and Anne, and see how 
powerless good constitutions are, when the men 
who work them are false and venal. Look, on 
the other hand, at the Roman Empire from the 
time of Vespasian to that of the Antonines, and 
see how well even a bad constitution will succeed, 
when good men are working it, 

Bad laws, I say, will work tolerably under 
good men, if fitted to the existing circumstances 
by men of the world, as all Roman laws were. 
If they had not been such, how was the Roman 
Empire, at least in its first years, a blessing to the 
safety, prosperity, and wealth of every country it 
enslaved ? But when defective Roman laws began 


to be worked by bad men, and that for 200 years, 
then indeed came times of evil. Let us take, 
then, Salvian's own account of the cause of Ro 
man decay. He, an eye-witness, imputes it all to 
the morals of Roman citizens. They were, ac 
cording to him, of the very worst. To the general 
dissoluteness he attributes, in plain words, the suc 
cess of the Frank and Gothic invaders. And 
the facts which he gives, and which there is no 
reason to doubt, are quite enough to prove him 
in the right. Every great man's house, he says, 
was a sink of profligacy. The wdmen slaves 
were at the mercy of their master; and the slaves 
copied his morals among themselves. It is an 
ugly picture : but common sense will tell us, if 
we but think a little, that such will, and must, 
be the case in slave-holding countries, wherever 
Chistianity is not present in its purest and strong 
est form, to control the passions of arbitrary 

But there was not merely profligacy among 
these Gauls. That alone would not have wrought 
their immediate ruin. Morals were bad enough in 
old Greece and Rome; as they were afterwards 
among the Turks : nevertheless as long as a race is 
strong ; as long as there is prudence, energy, deep 
national feeling, outraged virtue does not avenge 
itself at once by general ruin. But it avenges itself 
at last, as Salvian shews as all experience shews. 
As in individuals so in nations, unbridled indul- 


gence of the passions must produce, and does pro 
duce, frivolity, effeminacy, slavery to the appetite 
of the moment, a brutalized and reckless temper, 
before which, prudence, energy, national feeling, any 
and every feeling which is not centered in self, 
perishes utterly. The old French noblesse gave a 
proof of this law, which will last as a warning bea 
con to the end of time. The Spanish population of 
America, I am told, gives now a fearful proof of 
this same terrible penalty. Has not Italy proved it 
likewise, for centuries past ? It must be so, gentle 
men. For national life is grounded on, is the de 
velopment of, the life of the family. And where the 
root is corrupt, the tree must be corrupt likewise. 
It must be so. For Asmodeus does not walk alone. 
In his train follow impatience and disappointment, 
suspicion and jealousy, rage and cruelty, and all 
the passions which set man's hand against his 
fellow-man. It must be so. For profligacy is 
selfishness; and the family, and the society, the 
nation, exists only by casting away selfishness and 
by obeying law : not only the outward law, which 
says in the name of God, 'Thou shalt not/ but 
the inward law, the Law of Christ, which says, 
'Thou must; 7 the law of self-sacrifice, which 
selfish lust tramples under foot, till there is no 
more cohesion left between man and man, no 
more trust, no more fellow-help, than between the 
stags who fight for the hinds; and God help the 
nation which has brought itself to that ! 


No wonder, therefore, if Salvian's accounts of 
Gaulish profligacy be true, that Gaulish reckless 
ness reached at last a pitch all but incredible. It 
is credible, however shocking, that as he says, he 
himself saw, both at Treves, and another great city 
(probably Cologne, Colonia Agrippina, or "The 
Colony" par excellence) while the destruction of the 
state was imminent, "old men of rank, decrepit 
Christians, slaves to gluttony and lust, rabid with 
clamour, furious with bacchanalian orgies." It is 
credible, however shocking, that all through Gaul 
the captivity was " foreseen, yet never dreaded." 
And " so when the barbarians had encamped almost 
in sight, there was no terror among the people, no 
care of the cities. All was possest by carelessness 
and sloth, gluttony, drunkenness, sleep, according 
to that which the prophet saith : A sleep from 
the Lord had come over them." It is credible, 
however shocking, that though Treves was four 
times taken by the barbarians, it remained just 
as reckless as ever; and that I quote Salvian 
still when the population was half destroyed 
by fire and sword, the poor dying of famine, 
corpses of men and women lying about the streets 
breeding pestilence, while the dogs devoured them, 
the few nobles who were left comforted themselves 
by sending to the Emperor to beg for Circensian 

Those Circensian games, and indeed all the 
public spectacles, are fresh proofs of what I said 


just now ; that if a bad people earn bad govern 
ment, still a bad government makes a bad people. 

They were the most extraordinary instance 
which the world ever saw, of a government setting 
to work at a vast expense to debauch its subjects. 
Whether the Horn an rulers set that purpose con 
sciously before them, one dare not affirm. Their 
notion probably was (for they were as worldly 
wise as they were unprincipled) that the more 
frivolous and sensual the people were, the more 
quietly they would submit to slavery; and the 
best way to keep them frivolous and sensual, the 
Romans knew full well; so well, that after the 
Empire became Christian, and many heathen 
matters were done away with, they did not find it 
safe to do away with the public spectacles. . The 
temples of the Gods might go : but not the panto 

In one respect, indeed, these government 
spectacles became worse, not better, under Chris 
tianity. They were less cruel, no doubt : but also 
they were less beautiful. The old custom of ex 
hibiting representations of the old Greek myths, 
which had something of grace and poetry about 
them, and would carry back the spectators' 
thoughts to the nobler and purer heroic ages, 
disappeared before Christianity ; but the old vice 
did not. That was left; and no longer ennobled 
by the old heroic myths round which it had 
clustered itself, was simply of the silliest and most 


vulgar kind. We know in detail the abomina 
tions, as shameless and ridiculous, which went 
on a century after Salvian, in the theatres of 
Constantinople, under the eyes of the most Chris 
tian Emperor Justinian, and which won for that 
most infamous woman, Theodora, a share in his im 
perial crown, and the right to dictate doctrine to 
the Christian Bishops of the East, and to condemn 
the soul of Origen to everlasting damnation, for 
having exprest hopes of the final pardon of sinners. 
"We can well believe, therefore, Salvian's com 
plaints of the wickedness of those pantomimes of 
which he says, that 'honeste non possunt vel 
accusari;' he cannot even accuse them without 
saying what he is ashamed to say ; I believe also 
his assertion, that they would not let people be 
modest, even if they wished ; that they inflamed 
the passions, and debauched the imaginations of 
young and old, man and woman, and but I am 
not here to argue that sin is sin, or that the 
population of London would be the worse if the 
most shameless persons among them were put by 
the Government in possession of Drury Lane and 
Covent Garden ; and that, and nothing less than 
that, did the Roman pantomimes mean, from the 
days of Juvenal till those of the most holy and 
orthodox Empress Theodora. 

'Who, knowing the judgement of God, that they 
who do such things are worthy of death, not only do 
the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. ' 


Now in contrast to all these abominations, 
old Salvian sets, boldly and honestly, the supe 
rior morality of the barbarians. That, he says, 
is the cause of their strength and our weakness. 
We, professing orthodoxy, are profligate hypo 
crites. They, half heathens, half Arians, are ho- 
nester men, purer men than we. There is no use, 
he says, in despising the Goths as heretics, while 
they are better men than we. They are better 
Christians than the Romans, because they are 
better men. They pray to God for success, and 
trust in him, and we presumptuously trust in 
ourselves. We swear by Christ : but what do we 
do but blaspheme him, when we swear 'Per 
Christum tollo eum,' 'I will make away with him/ 
' Per Christum hunc jugulo/ 'I will cut his throat,' 
and then believe ourselves bound to commit the 
murder which we have vowed?.. /The Saxons/ he 
says, 'are fierce, the Franks faithless, the Gepidae 
inhuman, the Huns shameless. But is the Frank's 
perfidy as blameable as ours ? Is the Alman's 
drunkenness, or the Alan's rapacity, as damnable 
as a Christian's ? If a Hun or a Gepid deceives 
you, what wonder? He is utterly ignorant that 
there is any sin in falsehood. But what of the 
Christian who does the same ? The Barbarians/ 
he says, 'are better men than the Christians. The 
Goths/ he says, 'are perfidious, but chaste. The 
Alans unchaste, but less perfidious. The Franks 
are liars, but hospitable ; the Saxons ferociously 


cruel, but venerable for their chastity. The Visi 
goths who conquered Spain/ he says, 'were the 
most "ignavi" (heavy, I presume he means, and 
loutish) of all the barbarians: but they were 
chaste, and therefore they conquered/ 

In Africa, if we are to believe Salvian, things 
stood even worse, at the time of the invasion of 
the Vandals. In his violent invectives against 
the Africans, however, allowance must be made. 
Salvian was a great lover of monks ; and the 
Africans used, he says, to detest them, and mob 
them wherever they appeared ; for which offence, 
of course, he can find no words too strong. St 
Augustine, however, himself a countryman of 
theirs, who died, happily, just before the storm 
burst on that hapless land, speaks bitterly of their 
exceeding profligacy of which he himself in his 
wild youth, had had but too sad experience. 
Salvian's assertion is, that the Africans were the 
most profligate of all the Romans ; and that while 
each barbarian tribe had (as we have just seen) 
some good in them, the Africans had none. 

But there were noble souls left among them, 
lights which shone all the more brightly in the 
surrounding darkness. In the pages of Victor 
Vitensis, which tell the sad story of the persecution 
of the African Catholics by the Arian Vandals, 
you will find many a moving tale which shews 
that God had his own, even among those degraded 


The causes of the Arian hatred to the Catholics 
is very obscure. You will find all that is known 
in Dean Milman's history of Latin Christianity. 
A simple explanation may be found in the fact that 
the Catholics considered the Arians, and did not 
conceal their opinion, as all literally and actually 
doomed to the torments of everlasting fire ; and 
that, as Gibbon puts it, ' The heroes of the north, 
who had submitted with some reluctance, to 
believe that all their ancestors were in hell, were 
astonished and exasperated to learn, that they 
themselves had only changed the mode of their 
eternal condemnation/ The Teutons were (Salvian 
himself confesses it) trying to serve God devoutly, 
in chastity, sobriety, and honesty, according to 
their light. And they were told by the profligates 
of Africa, that this, and no less, was their doom. 
It is not to be wondered at, again, if they mistook 
the Catholic creed for the cause of Catholic immo 
rality. That may account for the Vandal custom 
of re-baptizing the Catholics. It certainly ac 
counts for the fact (if after all it be a fact) which 
Victor states, that they tortured the nuns to extort 
from them shameful confessions against the priests. 
But the history of the African persecution is the 
history of all persecutions, as confest again and 
again by the old fathers, as proved by the 
analogies of later times. The sins of the Church 
draw down punishment, by making her enemies 
confound her doctrine and her practice. But in 


return, the punishment of the Church purifies 
her, and brings out her nobleness afresh, as the 
snake casts his skin in pain, and comes out young 
and fair once more ; and in every dark hour of 
the Church, there flashes out some bright form 
of human heroism, to be a beacon and a com 
fort to all future time. Victor, for instance, tells 
the story of Dionysia, the beautiful widow whom 
the Vandals tried to torture into denying the 
Divinity of our Lord. How when they saw that 
she was bolder and fairer than all the other 
matrons, they seized her, and went to strip her : 
and she cried to them, ' Qualiter libet occidite : 
verecunda tarn en membra nolite nudare,' but in 
vain. They hung her up by the hands, and 
scourged her till streams of blood ran down every 
limb. Her only son, a delicate boy, stood by 
trembling, knowing that his turn would come 
next ; and she saw it, and called to him in the 
midst of her shame and agony. 'He had been 
baptized into the name of the Blessed Trinity ; let 
him die in that name, and not lose the wedding- 
garment. Let him fear the pain that never ends, 
and cling to the life that endures for ever.' The 
boy took heart, and when his turn came, died 
under the torture; and Dionysia took up the little 
corpse, and buried it in her own house ; and wor 
shipped upon her boy's grave to her dying day. 

Yes. God had his own left, even among those 
fallen Africans of Carthage. 



But neither there, nor in Spain, could the 
Vandals cure the evil. 'Now-a-days/ says Salvian, 
'there are no profligates among the Goths, save 
Romans ; none among the Vandals, save Romans. 
Blush, Roman people, everywhere, blush for your 
morals. There is hardly a city free from dens of 
sin, and none at all from impurity, save those 
which the barbarians have begun to occupy. And 
do we wonder if we are surpassed in power, by an 
enemy who surpasses us in decency ? It is not 
the natural strength of their bodies which makes 
them conquer us. We have been conquered only 
by the vices of our own morals.' 

Yes. Salvian was right. Those last words 
were no mere outburst of national vanity, content 
to confess every sin, save that of being cowards. 
He was right. It was not the mere muscle 
of the Teuton which enabled him to crush the 
decrepit and debauched slave-nations, Gaul and 
Briton, Iberian and African, as the ox crushes 
the frogs of the marsh. The 'sera juvenum Ve 
nus, ideoque inexhausta pubertas/ had given him 
more than his lofty stature, and his mighty limbs. 
Had he had nought but them, he might have 
remained to the end a blind Samson, grinding 
among the slaves in Caesar's mill, butchered to 
make a Roman holiday. But it had given him 
more, that purity of his ; it had given him, as it 
may give you, gentlemen, a calm and steady brain, 
and a free and loyal heart ; the energy which 


springs from health ; the self-respect which comes 
from self-restraint ; and the spirit which shrinks 
from neither God nor man, and feels it light 
to die for wife and child, for people, and for 



On Dr Lathams ' Germania.' 

IF I have followed in these lectures the better 
known and more widely received etymology of the 
name Goth, I have done so out of no disrespect 
to Dr Latham ; but simply because his theory 
seems to me adhuc sub judice. It is this, as far 
as I understand it. That 'Goth' was not the 
aboriginal name of the race. That they were pro 
bably not so called till they came into the land 
of the Getse, about the mouths of the Danube. 
That the Teutonic name for the Ostrogoths was 
Grutungs, and that of the Visigoths (which he 
does not consider to mean West-Goths) Thervings, 
Thiiringer. That on reaching the land of the Getae 
they took their name; 'just as the Kentings of 
Anglo-Saxon England took name from the Keltic 
country of Kent;' and that the names Goth, 
Gothones, Gothini were originally given to Lithu 
anians by their Sclavonic neighbours. I merely 


state the theory, and leave it for the judgment 
of others. 

The principal points which Dr Latham con 
siders himself to have established, are 

That the area and population of the Teutonic 
tribes have been, on the authority of Tacitus, much 
overrated; many tribes hitherto supposed to be 
Teutonic being really Sclavonic, &c. 

This need not shock our pride, if proved as 
it seems to me to be. The nations who have in 
fluenced the world's destiny have not been great, 
in the modern American sense of ( big ;' but great 
in heart, as our forefathers were. The Greeks 
were but a handful at Salamis; so were the Ro 
mans of the Republic ; so were the Spaniards of 
America ; so, probably, were the Aztecs and Incas 
whom they overthrew; and surely our own con 
querors and re-conquerors of Hindostan have shewn 
enough that it is not numbers, but soul, which 
gives a race the power to rule. 

Neither need we object to Dr Latham's opinion, 
that more than one of the tribes which took part 
in the destruction of the Empire were not abori 
ginal Germans, but Sclavonians Germanized, and 
under German leaders. It may be so. The cus 
tom of enslaving captives would render pure Teu 
tonic blood among the lower classes of a tribe the 
exception and not the rule; while the custom of 
chiefs choosing the ' thegns,' ' gesitha,' or ' comites/ 
who lived and died as their companions-in-arms, 


from among the most valiant of the unfree, would 
tend to produce a mixed blood in the upper classes 
also, and gradually assimilate the whole mass to 
the manners and laws of their Teutonic lords. 
Only by some such actual superiority of the upper 
classes to the lower can I explain the deep re 
spect for rank and blood, which distinguishes, 
and will perhaps always distinguish, the Teutonic 
peoples. Had there even been anything like a 
primaeval equality among our race, a hereditary 
aristocracy could never have arisen, or if arising 
for a while, never could have remained as a fact 
which all believed in, from the lowest to the high 
est. Just, or unjust, the institution represented, 
I verily believe, an ethnological fact. The golden- 
haired hero said to his brown-haired bondsman, ' I 
am a gentleman, who have a "gens," a stamm, a 
pedigree, and know from whom I am sprung. I 
am a Garding, an Amalung, a Scylding, an Osing, 
or what not. I am a son of the gods. The blood of 
the Asas is in my veins. Do you not see it ? 
Am I not wiser, stronger, more virtuous, more 
beautiful than you? You must obey me, and be 
my man, and follow me to the death. Then, if you 
prove a worthy thane, I will give you horse, wea 
pons, bracelets, lands ; and marry you, it may be, 
to my daughter or my niece. And if not, you 
must remain a son of the earth, grubbing in the 
dust of which you were made.' And the bonds 
man believed him ; and became his lord's man, and 


followed him to the death ; and was thereby not 
degraded, but raised out of selfish savagery and 
brute independence into loyalty, usefulness, and 
self-respect. As a fact, that is the method by 
which the thing was done : done ; very ill indeed, 
as most human things are done; but a method 
inevitable and possibly right ; till (as in England 
now) the lower classes became ethnologically iden 
tical with the upper, and equality became possible 
in law, simply because it existed in fact. 

But the part of Dr Latham's 'GermamV to 
which I am bound to call most attention, because 
I have not followed it, is that interesting part 
of the Prolegomena, in which he combats the 
generally received theory, that, between the time 
of Tacitus and that of Charlemagne, vast masses 
of Germans had migrated southward from between 
the Elbe and the Vistula ; and that they had been 
replaced by the Sclavonians who certainly were 
there in Charlemagne's days. 

Dr Latham argues against this theory with a 
great variety of facts and reasons. But has he 
not overstated his case on some points ? 

Need the migrations necessary for this theory 
have been of ' unparalleled magnitude and ra 

As for the 'unparalleled completeness' on 
which he lays much stress, from the fact that no 
remnants of Teutonic population are found in the 
countries evacuated : 


Is it the fact that 'history only tells us of 
German armies having advanced south'? Do we 
not find four famous cases the irruption of the 
Cimbri and Teutons into Italy ; the passage of 
the Danube by the Visigoths ; and the invasions of 
Italy first by the Ostrogoths, then by the Lom 
bards in which the nations came with men, 
women, and children, horses, cattle, and dogs, bag 
and baggage ? May not this have been the custom 
of the race, with its strong feeling for the family 
tie ; and may not this account for no traces of 
them being left behind ? 

Does not Dr Latham's theory proceed too 
much on an assumption that the Sclavonians dis- 
possest the Teutons by force ? And is. not this 
assumption his ground for objecting that the move 
ment was effected improbably 'by that division 
of the European population (the Sclavonic and 
Lithuanian), which has, within the historic period, 
receded before the Germanic'? 

Are these migrations, though 'unrepresented 
in any history' (i.e. contemporaneous), really 'un 
represented in any tradition'? Do not the tradi 
tions of Jornandes and Paulus Diaconus, that the 
Goths and the Lombards came from Scandina 
via, represent this very fact ? and are they to 
be set aside as naught ? Surely not. Myths of 
this kind generally embody a nucleus of truth, 
and must be regarded with respect ; for they 
often, after all arguments about around them are 


spent, are found to contain the very pith of the 

Are the 'phenomena of replacement and sub 
stitution' so very strange I will not say upon the 
popular theory, but at least on one half-way 
between it and Dr Latham's ? Namely 

That the Teutonic races came originally, as 
some of them say they did, from Scandinavia, 
Denmark, the South Baltic, &c. 

That they forced their way down, wave after 
wave, on what would have been the line of 
least resistance the Marches between the Gauls, 
Romanized or otherwise, and the Sclavonians. 
And that the Alps and the solid front of the 
Roman Empire turned them to the East, till their 
vanguard found itself on the Danube. 

This would agree with Dr Latham's most 
valuable hint, that Markmen, 'men of the Marches/ 
was perhaps the name of many German tribes 

That they fought, as they went, with the 
Sclavonian and other tribes (as their traditions 
seem to report), and rolled them back to the east 
ward ; and that as each Teutonic tribe past down 
the line, the Sclavonians rolled back again, till the 
last column was past. 

That the Teutons also carried down with them, 
as slaves or allies, a portion of this old Sclavonic 
population (to which Dr Latham will perhaps 
agree) ; and that this fact caused a hiatus, which 


was gradually filled by tribes who after all were 
little better than nomad hunters, and would occupy 
(quite nominally) a very large tract with a small 

Would not this theory agree at once tolerably 
with the old traditions and with Dr Latham's new 
facts ? 

The question still remains which is the ques 
tion of all. What put these Germanic peoples on 
going South ? Were there no causes sufficient to 
excite so desperate a resolve ? 

(1) Did they all go ? Is not Paulus Diaconus' 
story that one-third of the Lombards was to 
emigrate by lot, and two-thirds remain at home, a 
rough type of what generally happened what 
happens now in our modern emigrations? Was 
not the surplus population driven off by famine 
toward warmer and more hopeful climes ? 

(2) Are not the Teutonic populations of Eng 
land, North Germany, and the Baltic, the descend 
ants, much intermixed, and with dialects much 
changed, of the portions which were left behind ? 
This is the opinion, I believe, of several great 
ethnologists ? Is it not true ? If philological ob 
jections are raised to this, I ask (but in all humi 
lity), Did not these southward migrations com 
mence long before the time of Tacitus ? If so, 
may they not have commenced before the different 
Teutonic dialects were as distinct as they were in 
the historic period? And are we to suppose that 


the dialects did not alter during the long journey- 
ings through many nations ? Is it possible that 
the Thervings and Grutungs could have retained 
the same tongue on the Danube, as their forefathers 
spoke in their native-land ? Would not the Mseso- 
Gothic of Ulfilas have been all but unintelligible 
to the Goth who, upon the old theory, remained in 
Gothland of Sweden ? 

(3) But were there not more causes than 
mere want, which sent them south? Had the 
peculiar restlessness of the race nothing to do with 
it ? A restlessness not nomadic, but migratory : 
arising not from carelessness of land and home, 
but from the longing to found a home in a new 
land, like the restlessness of us their children ? 
As soon as we meet them in historic times, 
they are always moving, migrating, invading. 
Were they not doing the same in pre-historic 
times, by fits and starts, no doubt with periods 
of excitement, periods of collapse and rest ? 
When we recollect the invasion of the Normans ; 
the wholesale eastward migration of the Cru 
saders, men, women, and children ; and the later 
colonization by Teutonic peoples, of every quarter 
of the globe, is there anything wonderful in the 
belief that similar migratory manias may have 
seized the old tribes ; that the spirit of Woden, 
'the mover/ may have moved them, and forced 
them to go ahead, as now? Doubtless the theory 
is strange. But the Teutons were and are a strange 


people ; so strange, that they have conquered 
one may almost say that they are all nations 
which are alive upon the globe ; and we may there 
fore expect them to have done strange things even 
in their infancy. 

The Romans saw them conquer the empire ; 
and said, the good men among them, that it 
was on account of their superior virtue. But 
beside the virtue which made them succeed, there 
must have been the adventurousness which made 
them attempt. They were a people fond of 
'avanturen/ like their descendants; and they went 
out to seek them ; and found enough and to 

(4) But more, had they never heard of Rome ? 
Surely they had, and at a very early period 
of the empire. We are apt to forget, that for 
every discovery of the Germans by the Romans, 
there was a similar discovery of the Romans by 
the Germans, and one which would tell powerfully 
on their childish imagination. Did not one single 
Kemper or Teuton return from Marius' slaughter, 
to spread among the tribes (niddering though 
he may have been called for coming back alive) 
the fair land which they had found, fit for the 
gods of Valhalla ; the land of sunshine, fruits, 
and wine, wherein his brothers' and sisters' bones 
were bleaching unavenged? Did no gay Gaul of 
the Legion of the Lark, boast in a frontier wine- 
house to a German trapper, who came in to sell 


his peltry, how he himself was a gentleman now, 
and a civilized man, and a Roman; and how 
he had followed Julius Caesar the king of men 
over the Rubicon, and on to a city of the like of 
which man never dreamed, wherein was room for 
all the gods of heaven? Did no captive tribune 
of Varus's legions, led with horrid shouts round 
Thor's altar in the Teutoburger Wald, ere his 
corpse was hung among the horses and goats 
on the primeval oaks, turn to bay like a Roman, 
and tell his wild captors of the Eternal City, and of 
the might of that Caesar who would avenge every 
hair upon his head with a German life ; and receive 
for answer a shout of laughter, and the cry 'You 
have come to us : and some day we will go to you'? 
Did no commissary, bargaining with a German for 
cattle to be sent over the frontier by such a day of 
the week, and teaching him to mistranslate into 
those names of Thor, Woden, Freya, and so forth, 
which they now carry, the Jewish-Assyrian-Roman 
days of the se'nnight, amuse the simple forester by 
telling him how the streets of Rome were paved 
with gold, and no one had anything to do there but 
to eat and bathe at the public expense, and to go to 
the theatre, and see 20,000 gladiators fight at once? 
Did no German ' Regulus/ alderman, or king, enter 
Rome on an embassy, and come back with uplifted 
eyes and hands, declaring that he had seen things 
unspeakable a 'very fine plunder,' as Blucher 
said of London ; and that if it were not for the 


walls, they might get it all ; for not only the ladies, 
but the noblemen, went about in litters of silver 
and gold, and wore gauze dresses, the shameless 
wretches, through which you might see every limb ; 
so that as for killing them, there was no more fear 
of them than of a flock of sheep : but that he did 
not see as well he could have wished how to enter 
the great city, for he was more or less the worse 
for liquor the whole time, with wondrous stuff 
which they called wine ? Or did no captive, es 
caped by miracle from the butcheries of the amphi 
theatre, return to tell his countrymen how all the 
rest had died like German men; and call on 
them to rise and avenge their brothers' blood? 
Yes, surely the Teutons knew well, even in the 
time of Tacitus, of the ' micklegard,' the great city 
and all its glory. Every fresh tribe who passed 
along the frontier of Gaul or of Noricum would 
hear more and more of it, see more and more 
men who had actually been there. If the glory of 
the city exercised on its own inhabitants an in 
toxicating influence, as of a place omnipotent, super 
human, divine it would exercise (exaggerated as 
it would be) a still stronger influence on the 
barbarians outside : and what wonder if they 
pressed southwards at first in the hope of taking 
the mighty city; and afterwards, as her real 
strength became more known, of at least seizing 
some of those colonial cities, which were as super 
human in their eyes as Rome itself would have 


been ? In the crusades, the children, whenever 
they came to a great town, asked their parents if 
that was not Jerusalem. And so, it may be, 
many a gallant young Teuton, on entering for the 
first time such a city as Cologne, Lyons, or Vienna, 
whispered half trembling to his lord " Surely 
this must be Rome." 

Some such arguments as these might surely be 
brought in favour of a greater migration than Dr 
Latham is inclined to allow: but I must leave the 
question for men of deeper research and wider 
learning, than I possess. 



' I HAVE taken in hand/ said Sir Francis Drake 
once to the crew of the immortal Pelican, ' that 
which I know not how to accomplish. Yea, it 
hath even bereaved me of my wits to think of it/ 

And so I must say on the subject of this lec 
ture. I wish to give you some notion of the 
history of Italy for nearly one hundred years ; say 
from 400 to 500. But it is very difficult. How 
can a man draw a picture of that which has no 
shape; or tell the order of absolute disorder? It 
is all a horrible ' fourmillement des nations/ like 
the working of an ant-heap; like the insects de 
vouring each other in a drop of water. Teuton 
tribes, Sclavonic tribes, Tartar tribes, Roman 
generals, empresses, bishops, courtiers, adventur 
ers, appear for a moment out of the crowd, dim 
phantoms nothing more, most of them with a 
name appended, and then vanish, proving their 


humanity only by leaving behind them one more 
stain of blood. 

And what became of the masses all the while ? 
of the men, slaves the greater part of them, if 
not all, who tilled the soil, and ground the corn 
for man must have eaten, then as now ? We have 
no hint. One trusts that God had mercy on them, 
if not in this world, still in the world to come. 
Man, at least, had none. 

Taking one's stand at Rome, and looking to 
ward the north, what does one see for nearly one 
hundred years? Wave after wave rising out of 
the north, the land of night, and wonder, and 
the terrible unknown ; visible only as the light of 
Roman civilization strikes their crests, and they 
dash against the Alps, and roll over through the 
mountain passes, into the fertile plains below. 
Then at last they are seen but too well ; and you 
discover that the waves are living men, women, 
and children, horses, dogs, and cattle, all rushing 
headlong into that great whirlpool of Italy: and 
yet the gulf is never full. The earth drinks up the 
blood ; the bones decay into the fruitful oil ; the 
very names and memories of whole tribes are 
washed away. And the result of an immigration 
which may be counted by hundreds of thousands 
is this that all the land is waste. 

The best authorities which I can give you 
(though you will find many more in Gibbon) are 
for the main story, Jornandes, De Rebus Geticis. 



Himself a Goth, he wrote the history of his race, 
and that of Attila and his Huns, in good rugged 
Latin, not without force and sense. 

Then Claudian, the poet, a bombastic pane 
gyrist of contemporary Roman scoundrels; but 
full of curious facts, if one could only depend on 

Then the earlier books of Procopius De Bello 
Gothico, and the Chronicle of Zosimus. 

Salvian, Ennodius and Sidonius Apollinaris, 
as Christians, will give you curious details, espe 
cially as to South France and North Italy; while 
many particulars of the first sack of Rome, with 
comments thereon which express the highest in 
tellects of that day, you will find in St Jerome's 
Letters, and St Augustine's City of God. 

But if you want these dreadful times explained 
to you, I do not think you can do better than 
to take your Bibles, and to read the Revelations 
of St John the Apostle. I shall quote them, 
more than once, in this lecture. I cannot help 
quoting them. The words come naturally to my 
lips, as fitter to the facts than any words of my 

I do not come here to interpret the Book 
of Revelations. I do not understand that book. 
But I do say plainly, though I cannot interpret 
the book, that the book has interpreted those 
times to me. Its awful metaphors give me 
more living and accurate pictures of what went 


on than any that Gibbon's faithful details can 

You may see, if you have spiritual eyes 
wherewith to see, the Dragon, the serpent, sym 
bol of political craft and the devilish wisdom 
of the Roman, giving authority to the Beast, the 
symbol of brute power ; to mongrel Aetiuses and 
Bonifaces, barbarian Stilichos, Eicimers and As- 
pars, and a host of similar adventurers, whose only 
strength was force. 

You may see the world wondering after the 
beast, and worshipping brute force, as the only 
thing left to believe in. 

You may see the nations of the world gnawing 
their tongues for pain, and blaspheming God, but 
not repenting of their deeds. 

You may see the faith and patience of the 
saints men like Augustine, Salvian, Epiphanius, 
Severinus, Deogratias of Carthage, and a host 
more, no doubt, whose names the world will never 
hear the salt of the earth, which kept it all 
from rotting. 

You may see Babylon the great fallen, and 
all the kings and merchants of the earth bewailing 
her afar off, and watching the smoke of her tor 

You may see, as St John warns you, that 
after her fall, mind if men would go on wor 
shipping the beast, and much more his image 
the phantom and shadow of brute force, after the 



reality had passed away they should drink of the 
wine of the wrath of God, and be tormented for 
ever. For you may see how those degenerate 
Romans did go on worshipping the shadow of 
brute force, and how they were -tormented for 
ever ; and had no rest day or night, because they 
worshipped the Beast and his image. 

You may see all the fowl of the heavens 
flocking together to the feast of the great God, 
to eat the flesh of kings and captains, horse and 
rider, bond and free. All carrion-birds, human 
as well as brute All greedy villains and ad 
venturers, the scoundreldom of the whole world, 
flocking in to get their share of the carcass of 
the dying empire ; as the vulture and the raven 
flock in to the carrion when the royal eagles have 
gorged their fill. 

And lastly, you may see, if God give you 
grace, One who is faithful and true, with a name 
which no man knew, save Himself, making war in 
righteousness against all evil ; bringing order out 
of disorder, hope out of despair, fresh health and 
life out of old disease and death ; executing just 
judgment among all the nations of the earth ; 
and sending down from heaven the city of God, 
in the light of which the nations of those who 
are saved should walk, and the kings of the earth 
should bring their power and their glory into it; 
with the tree of life in the midst of it, whose 
leaves should be for the healing of the nations. 


Again, I say, I am not here to interpret the 
Book of Revelations; but this I say, that that 
book interprets those times to me. 

Leaving, for the present at least, to better histo 
rians than myself the general subject of the Teutonic 
immigrations ; the conquest of North Gaul by the 
Franks, of Britain by the Saxons and Angles, of 
Burgundy by the Burgundians, of Africa by the 
Vandals, I shall speak rather of those Teutonic 
tribes which actually entered and conquered Italy ; 
and first, of course, of the Goths. Especially in 
teresting to us English should their fortunes be, 
for they are said to be very near of kin to us ; at 
least to those Jutes who conquered Kent. As 
Goths, Geats, Getse, Juts, antiquarians find them 
in early and altogether mythic times, in the Scan 
dinavian peninsula, and the isles and mainland of 

Their name, it is said, is the same as one name 
for the Supreme Being. Goth, Guth, Yuth, sig 
nifies war. 'God' is the highest warrior, the Lord 
of Hosts, and the progenitor of the race, whether 
as an ' Eponyin hero' or as the supreme Deity. 
Physical force was their rude notion of Divine 
power, and Tiu, Tiv, or Tyr, in like manner, who 
was originally the god of the clear sky, the Zeus 
or Jove of the Greeks and Romans, became by 
virtue of his warlike character, identical with the 
Roman Mars, till the dies Martis of the Roman 
week became the German Tuesday. 


Working their way down from Gothland and 
Jutland, we know not why nor when, thrusting aside 
the cognate Burgunds, and the Sclavonic tribes 
whom they met on the road, they had spread 
themselves, in the third century, over the whole 
South of Russia, and westward over the Danubian 
Provinces, and Hungary. The Ostrogoths (East- 
goths) lay from the Volga to the Borysthenes, the 
Visigoths (West-goths ?). from the Borysthenes to 
the Theiss. Behind them lay the Gepidse, a Ger 
man tribe, who had come south-eastward with 
them, and whose name is said to signify the men 
who had ' bided ' (remained) behind the rest. 

What manner of men they were it is hard to 
say, so few details are left to us. But we may 
conceive them as a tall fair-haired people, clothed 
in shirts and smocks of embroidered linen, and 
gaiters cross-strapped with hide; their arms and 
necks encircled with gold and silver rings; the 
warriors, at least of the upper class, well horsed, 
and armed with lance and heavy sword, with chain- 
mail, and helmets surmounted with plumes, horns, 
towers, dragons, boars, and the other strange de 
vices which are still seen on the crests of German 
nobles. This much we can guess ; for in this way 
their ancestors, or at least relations, the War- 
Geats, appear clothed in the grand old song of 
Beowulf. Their land must have been tilled prin 
cipally by slaves, usually captives taken in war: 
but the noble mystery of the forge, where arms 


and ornaments were made, was an honourable 
craft for men of rank ; and their ladies, as in the 
middle age, prided themselves on their skill with 
the needle and the loom. Their language has 
been happily preserved to us in Ulfilas' Transla 
tion of the Scriptures. For these Goths, the great 
er number of them at least, were by this time 
Christians, or very nearly such. Good Bishop 
Ulfilas, brought up a Christian and consecrated 
by order of Constantine the Great, had? been 
labouring for years to convert his adopted coun 
trymen from the worship of Thor and Woden. 
He had translated the Bible for them, and had 
constructed a Gothic alphabet for that purpose. 
He had omitted, however (prudently as he con 
sidered) the books of Kings, with their histories 
of the Jewish wars. The Goths, he held, were 
only too fond of fighting already, and ' needed in 
that matter the bit, rather than the spur/ He 
had now a large number of converts, some of 
whom. had even endured persecution from their 
heathen brethren. Athanaric, 'judge/ or alder 
man, of the Thervrings, had sent through the 
camp so runs the story the waggon which bore 
the idol of "Woden, and had burnt, with their 
tents and their families, those who refused to 

They, like all other German tribes, were ruled 
over, by two royal races, sons of Woden and the 
Asas. The Ostrogoth race was the Amalungs 


the 'heavenly/ or 'spotless' race; the Visigoth 
race was the Balthungs the 'bold' or 'valiant' 
race; and from these two families, and from a 
few others, but all believed to be lineally descended 
from Woden, and now much intermixed, are de 
rived all the old royal families of Europe, that 
of the House of Brunswick among the rest. 

That they were no savages, is shewn suffi 
ciently by their names, at least those of their 
chiefs. Such names as Alaric, 'all rich' or 'all 
powerful', Ataulf, 'the helping father/ Fridigern, 
' the willing peace- maker/ and so forth all the 
names in fact, which can be put back into their 
native form out of their Romanized distortions, 
are tokens of a people far removed from that 
barbarous state in which men are named after per 
sonal peculiarities, natural objects, or the beasts 
of the field. On this subject you may consult, as 
full of interest and instruction, the list of Teutonic 
names given in Muratori. 

They had broken over the Roman frontier 
more than once, and taken cities. They had com 
pelled the Emperor Gratian to buy them off. 
They had built themselves flat- bottomed boats 
without iron in them, and sailed from the Crimea 
round the shores of the Black Sea, once and again, 
plundering Trebizond, and at last the temple itself 
of Diana at Ephesus. They had even penetrated 
into Greece and Athens, plundered the Parthenon, 
and threatened the capitol. They had fought the 


Emperor Deems, till lie, and many of his legion 
aries, were drowned in a bog in the moment of 
victory. They had been driven with difficulty 
back across the Danube by Aurelian, and walled 
out of the Empire with the Allemanni by Probus's 
'Teufel-Mauer,' stretching from the Danube to 
the Rhine. Their time was not yet come by a 
hundred years. But they had seen and tasted the 
fine things of the sunny south, and did not forget 
them amid the steppes arid snows. 

At last a sore need came upon them. About 
350 there was a great king among them, Er- 
manaric, ' the powerful warrior/ comparable, says 
Jornandes, to Alexander himself, who had con 
quered all the conquered tribes around. "When 
he was past 100 years old, a chief of the Roxolani 
(Ugrians, according to Dr Latham ; men of Ros, 
or Russia), one of these tribes, plotted against him, 
and sent for help to the new people, the Huns, 
who had just appeared on the confines of Europe 
and Asia. Old Ermanaric tore the traitor's wife 
to pieces with wild horses : but the Huns came 
nevertheless. A magic hind, the Goths said, 
guided the new people over the steppes to the land 
of the Goths, and then vanished. They fought 
with the Goths, and defeated them. Old Erma 
naric stabbed himself for shame, and the hearts of 
the Goths became as water before the tempest of 
nations. They were supernatural creatures, the 
Goths believed, engendered of witches and demons 


on the steppes ; pig-eyed hideous beings, with 
cakes instead of faces, ' offam magis quam faciem/ 
under ratskin caps, armed with arrows tipped with 
bone, and lassos of cord, eating, marketing, sleep 
ing on horseback, so grown into the saddle that 
they could hardly walk in their huge boots. With 
them were Acatzirs, painted blue, hair as well 
as skin ; Alans, wandering with their waggons 
like the Huns, armed in heavy cuirasses of plait 
ed horn, their horses decked with human scalps; 
Geloni armed with a scythe, wrapt in a cloak of 
human skin; Bulgars who impaled their prisoners 
savages innumerable as the locust swarms. Who 
could stand against them ? 

In the year 375, the West Goths came down 
to the Danube-bank and entreated the Romans 
to let them cross. There was a Christian party 
among them, persecuted by the heathens, and 
hoping for protection from Home. Athanaric 
had vowed never to set foot on Roman soil, and 
after defending himself against the Huns retired 
into the forests of ' Caucaland.' Good Bishop 
Ulfilas and his converts looked longingly toward 
the Christian Empire. Surely the Christians 
would receive them as brothers, welcome them, 
help them. The simple German fancied a Roman 
even such a one as themselves. 

Ulfilas went on embassy to Antioch to Valens 
the Emperor. Valens, low-born, cruel, and covet- 
ous ; was an Arian, and could not lose the oppor- 


tunity of making converts. He sent theologians 
to meet Ulfilas, and torment him into Arianism. 
When he arrived, Yalens tormented him himself. 
While the Goths starved he argued, apostasy was 
the absolute condition of his help, till Ulfilas, in 
a weak moment, gave his word that the Goths 
should become Arians, if Yalens would give them 
lands on the South bank of the Danube. Then 
they would be the Emperor's men, and guard the 
marches against all foes. From that time Arian 
ism became the creed, not only of the Goths, but 
of the Vandals, the Sueves, and almost all the 
Teutonic tribes. 

It was (if the story be true) a sinful and foolish 
compact, forced from a good man by the sight 
of his countrymen's extreme danger and misery. 
It avenged itself, soon enough, upon both Goths 
and Romans. 

To the Goths themselves the change must have 
seemed not only unimportant, but imperceptible. 
Unaccustomed to that accuracy of thought, which 
is too often sneered at by Gibbon as ( metaphy 
sical subtlety,' all of which they would have been 
aware was the change of a few letters in a creed 
written in an unknown tongue. They could not 
know, (Ulfilas himself could not have known, only 
two years after the death of St Athanasius at 
Alexandria ; while the Nicsean Creed was as yet 
received by only half of the Empire ; and while 
he meanwhile had been toiling for years in the 


Danubian wilds, ignorant perhaps of the contro 
versy which had meanwhile convulsed theChurch) 
neither the Goths nor he, I say, could have known 
that the Arianism, which they embraced, was 
really the last, and as it were apologetic, refuge 
of dying Polytheism ; that it, and not the Catho 
lic Faith, denied the abysmal unity of the God 
head ; that by making the Son inferior to the 
Father, as touching his Godhead, it invented two 
Gods, a greater and a lesser, thus denying the 
absoluteness, the infinity, the illimitability, by any 
category of quantity, of that One Eternal, of whom 
it is written, that God is a Spirit. Still less could 
they have guessed that when Arius, the handsome 
popular preacher (whose very name, perhaps, Ul- 
filas never heard) asked the fine ladies of Alex 
andria 'Had you a son before that son was 
born?' 'No.' 'Then God could have no son 
before that son was begotten, &c.' that he was 
mingling up the idea of Time with the idea of that 
Eternal God who created Time, and debasing to 
the accidents of before and after that Timeless and 
Eternal Generation, of which it is written, 'Thou 
art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.' Still 
less could Ulfilas, or his Goths, have known, that 
the natural human tendency to condition God by 
Time, would be, in later ages, even long after 
Arianism was crushed utterly, the parent of many 
a cruel, gross, and stupid superstition. To them 
it would have been a mere question whether Wo- 


den, the All-father, was superior to one of his sons, 
the Asas : and the Catholic faith probably seemed 
to them an impious assumption of equality, on the 
part of one of those Asas, with Woden himself. 

Of the battle between Arianism and Ortho 
doxy I have said enough to shew you that I think 
it an internecine battle between truth and false 
hood. But it has been long ago judged by wager 
of battle : by the success of that duel of time, of 
which we must believe (as our forefathers believed 
of all fair duels) that God defends the right. 

So the Goths were to come over the Danube 
stream : but they must give up their arms, and 
deliver their children (those of rank, one supposes), 
as hostages, to be educated by the Romans, as 

They crossed the fatal river ; they were whole 
days in crossing; those set to count them gave 
it up in despair; Ammianus says: 'He who 
wishes to know their number/ 

'Libyci velit sequoris idem 
Discere quam multae Zephyro volvuntur arense.' 

And when they were across, they gave up the 
children. They had not the heart to give up the 
beloved weapons. The Roman commissioners let 
them keep the arms, at the price of many a Gothic 
woman's honour. Ugly and foul things hap 
pened, of which we have only hints. Then they 
had to be fed for the time being, till they could 
cultivate their land. Lupicinus and Maximus, the 


two governors of Thrace, pocketed the funds which 
Valens sent, and starved the Goths. The markets 
were full of carrion and dogs' flesh. Anything was 
good enough for a barbarian. Their fringed car 
pets, their beautiful linens, all went. A little 
wholesome meat cost 10 pounds of silver. When 
all was gone, they had to sell their children. To 
establish a slave-trade in the beautiful boys and 
girls was just what the wicked Romans wanted. 

At last the end came. They began to rise. 
Fridigern, their king, kept them quiet till the time 
was ripe for revenge. The Romans, trying to 
keep the West Goths down, got so confused, it 
seems, that they let the whole nation of the East 
Goths (of whom we shall hear more hereafter) 
dash across the Danube, and establish themselves 
in the north of the present Turkey, to the east of 
the West Goths. 

Then at Marcianopolis, the .capital of Lower 
Moesia, Lupicinus asked Fridigern and his chiefs 
to a feast. The starving Goths outside were re 
fused supplies from the market, and came to 
blows with the guards. Lupicinus, half drunk, 
heard of it, and gave orders for a massacre. Fridi 
gern escaped from the palace, sword in hand. 
The smouldering embers burst into flame, the 
war-cry was raised, and the villain Lupicinus fled 
for his life. 

Then began war south of the Danube. The 
Roman legions were defeated by the Goths, who 


armed themselves with the weapons of the dead. 
Moesia was overrun with fire and sword. Adriano- 
ple was attacked, but in vain. The slaves in the gold 
mines were freed from their misery, and shewed 
the Goths the mountain-passes and the stores of 
grain. As they went on, the Goths recovered 
their children. The poor things told horrid tales ; 
and the Goths, maddened, avenged themselves on 
the Eomans of every age and sex. ' They left, 
says St Jerome, ' nothing alive not even the 
beasts of the field ; till nothing was left but grow 
ing brambles and thick forests/ 

Valens, the Emperor, was at Antioch. Now 
he hurried to Constantinople, but too late. The 
East Goths had joined the West Goths; and 
hordes of Huns, Alans, and Taifalae (detestable 
savages, of whom we know nothing but evil) had 
joined Fridigern's confederacy. 

Gratian, Valens' colleague and nephew, son of 
Yalentinian the bear-ward, had just won a great 
victory over the Allemanni at Colmar in Alsace; 
and Yalens was jealous of his glory. He is 
said to have been a virtuous youth, whose mono 
mania was shooting. He fell in love with the 
wild Alans, in spite of their horse-trappings of 
scalps, simply because of their skill in archery; 
formed a body-guard of them, and passed his time 
hunting with them round Paris. Nevertheless, he 
won this great victory by the help, it seems, of 
one Count Eicimer (' ever-powerful'), Count of 


the Domestics, whose name proclaims him a 

Valens was jealous of Gratian's fame; he was 
stung by the reproaches of the mob of Constan 
tinople; and he undervalued the Goths, on account 
of some successes of his lieutenants, who had reco 
vered much of the plunder taken by them, and had 
utterly overpowered the foul Taifalse, transporting 
them to lands about Modena and Parma in Italy. 
He rejected Count Ricimer's advice to wait till 
Gratian reinforced him with the victorious western 
legions, and determined to give battle a few miles 
from Adrianople. Had he waited for Gratian, 
the history of the whole world might have been 

For on the ninth of August, A.D. 378, the 
fatal day, the second Cannae, from which Rome 
never recovered as from that first, the young world 
and the old world met, and fought it out ; and 
the young world won. The light Roman cavalry 
fled before the long lances and heavy swords of 
the German knights. The knights turned on the 
infantry, broke them, hunted them down by charge 
after charge, and left the footmen to finish the 

Two-thirds of the Roman army were destroyed ; 
four Counts of the Empire; generals and officers 
without number. Valens fled wounded to a cot 
tage. The Goths set it on fire, and burned him 
and his staff therein, ignorant that they had in 


their hands the Emperor of Eome. Verily there 
is a God who judgeth the earth. 

So thought the Catholics of that day, who saw 
in the fearful death of Valens a punishment for his 
having forced the Goths to become Arians. ' It 
was just/ says one, 'that he should burn on 
earth, by whose counsels so many barbarians will 
burn in hell for ever.' There are (as I have shewn) 
still darker counts in the conduct of the Romans 
toward the Goths; enough (if we believe our 
Bibles) to draw down on the guilty the swift and 
terrible judgments of God. 

At least, this was the second Cannae, the death- 
wound of Rome. From that day the end was cer 
tain, however slow. The Teuton had at last tried 
his strength against the Roman. The wild forest- 
child had found himself suddenly at death-grips 
with the Enchanter whom he had feared, and 
almost worshipped, for so long ; and behold, to his 
own wonder, he was no more a child, but grown 
into a man, and the stronger, if not the cunninger 
of the two. There had been a spell upon him; 
the 'Romani nominis umbra/ But from that day 
the spell was broken. He had faced a Roman 
Emperor, a Divus Csesar, the man- god by whose 
head all nations swore, rich with the magic wealth, 
wise with the magic cunning, of centuries of super 
human glory ; and he had killed him, and behold 
he died, like other men. That he had done. What 
was there left for him now that he could not do ? 



The stronger lie was, but not yet the cunninger 
of the two. The Goths could do no more. They 
had to leave A.drianople behind them, with the 
Emperor's treasures safe within its w r alls ; to gaze 
with childish wonder at the Bosphorus and its 
palaces ; to recoil in awe from the ' long walls' of 
Constantinople, and the great stones which the 
engines thereon hurled at them by 'arsmetricke 
and nigromancy/ as their descendants believed of 
the Roman mechanicians, even five hundred years 
after ; to hear (without being able to avenge) the 
horrible news, that the Gothic lads distributed 
throughout Asia, to be educated as Romans, had 
been decoyed into the cities by promises of lands 
and honours, and then massacred in cold blood ; 
and then to settle down, leaving their children 
unavenged, for twenty years on the rich land which 
we now call Turkey in Europe, waiting till the 
time was come. 

Waiting, I say, till the time was come. The 
fixed idea that Home, if not Constantinople, could 
be taken at last, probably never left the minds of 
the leading Goths after the battle of Adrianople. 
The altered policy of the Caesars was enough of 
itself to keep that idea alive. So far from ex 
pelling them from the country which they had 
seized, the new Emperor began to flatter and 
to honour them. 

They had been heretofore regarded as savages, 
either to be driven back by main force, or tempted 


to enlist in the Eoman ranks. Theodosius regarded 
them as a nation, and one which it was his interest 
to hire, to trust, to indulge at the expense of his 
Roman subjects. 

Theodosius has received the surname of Great 
seemingly by comparison ; " Inter csecos luscus 
rex;" and it was highly creditable to a Roman 
Emperor in those days to be neither ruffian nor 
villain, but a handsome, highbred, courteous gen 
tleman, pure in his domestic life, an orthodox 
Christian, and sufficiently obedient to the Church 
to forgive the monks who had burnt a Jewish 
synagogue, and to do penance in the Cathedral of 
Milan for the massacre of Thessalonica. That the 
morals of the Empire (if Zosimus is to be at all 
believed) grew more and more effeminate, cor 
rupt, reckless; that the soldiers (if Vegetius is 
to be believed) actually laid aside, by royal per 
mission, their helmets and cuirasses, as too heavy 
for their degenerate bodies; that the Roman heavy 
infantry, which had conquered the world, ceased to 
exist, while its place was taken by that Teutonic 
heavy cavalry, which decided every battle in Eu 
rope till the English yeoman, at Crecy and Poic- 
tiers, turned again the balance of arms in favour 
of the men who fought on foot ; that the Goths 
became the ' foederati' or allies of the Empire, 
paid to fight its battles against Maximus the 
Spaniard, and Arbogast the Frank, the rebels who, 
after the murder of young Gratian, attempted to 



set up a separate empire in the west; that Stilicho 
the Vandal was the Emperor's trusted friend, and 
master of the horse ; that Alaric the Balth, and 
other noble Goths, were learning to combine with 
their native courage those Roman tactics which 
they only needed to become masters of the world ; 
that in all cities, even in the Royal Palace, the 
huge Goth swaggered in Roman costume, his neck 
and arms heavy with golden tores and bracelets ; or 
even (as in the case of Fravitta and Priulf ) stabbed 
his enemy with impunity at the imperial table ; 
that Kiveiv TO 1,Kv9iKov 9 to disturb the Goths, was 
a deadly offence throughout the Empire : all these 
things did not prevent a thousand new statues 
from rising in honour of the great Csesar, and ex 
cited nothing more than grumblings of impotent 
jealousy from a people whose maxim had be 
come, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we 

Three anecdotes will illustrate sufficiently the 
policy of Theodosius toward his inconvenient 
guests. Towards the beginning of his reign, when 
the Goths, after the death of the great Fridigern, 
were broken up, and quarrelling among them 
selves, he tempted a royal Amal, Modar by name, 
by the title of Master -General, to attack and 
slaughter in their sleep a rival tribe of Goths, and 
carry off an immense spoil to the imperial camp. 
To destroy the German by the German was so 
old a method of the Roman policy, that it was 


not considered derogatory to the 'greatness' of 

The old Athanaric, the Thervring he who had 
sworn never to set foot on Roman soil, and had 
burnt them who would not fall down and worship 
before Woden's waggon, came over the Danube, 
out of the forests of 'Caucaland/ and put him 
self at the head of the Goths. The great Caesar 
trembled before the heathen hero ; and they made 
peace together; and old Athanaric went to him 
at Constantinople, and they became as friends. 
And the Roman i nominis umbra, the glamour 
of the Koman name, fell on the old man, too 
feeble now to fight ; and as he looked, says 
Jornandes, on the site of the city, and on the 
fleets of ships, and the world-famous walls, and 
the people from all the nations upon earth, he 
said, ' Now I behold what I had often heard tell, 
and never believed. The Kaiser is a God on 
earth, and he who shall lift his hand against him, 
is guilty of his own blood.' The old hero died 
in Constantinople, and the really goodnatured 
Emperor gave him a grand funeral, and a statue, 
and so delighted the simple Goths, that the whole 
nation entered his service bodily, and became the 
Emperor's men. 

The famous massacre of Thessalonica, and the 
penance of Theodosius, immortalized by the pencil 
of Vandyke, is another significant example of the 
relation between Goth and Eoman. One Both- 



eric (a Vandal or other Teuton by his name) was 
military commandant of that important post. He 
put in prison a popular charioteer of the circus, 
for a crime for which the Teutonic language had 
to borrow a foreign name, and which the Teutons, 
like ourselves, punished with death, though it 
was committed with impunity in any Roman 
city. At the public games, the base mob cla 
moured, but in vain, for the release of their 
favourite ; and not getting him, rose on Botheric, 
murdered him and his officers, and dragged their 
corpses through the streets. 

This was indeed KLVGLV TO ^KuOtKov ; and Theo- 
dosius, partly in honest indignation, partly per 
haps in fear of the consequences, issued orders 
from Milan which seem to have amounted to a 
permission to the Goths to avenge themselves. 
The populace were invited as usual to the games 
of the circus, and crowded in, forgetful of their 
crime, heedless of danger, absorbed in the one 
greed of frivolous, if not sinful pleasure. The 
Gothic troops concealed around entered, and then 
began a 'murder grim and great. 7 For three 
hours it lasted. Every age and sex, innocent or 
guilty, native or foreigner, to the number of at 
least 7,000, perished, or are said to have perished; 
and the soul of Botheric had 'good company on 
its way to Valhalla.' 

The Goths, doubtless, considered that they 
were performing an act of public justice upon 


villains: but the Bishops of the Church looked 
at the matter in another light. The circumstances 
of treachery, the confusion of the innocent with 
the guilty, the want of any judicial examination 
and sentence, aroused their sense of humanity 
and justice. The offence was aggravated by the 
thought that the victims were Roman and ortho 
dox, the murderers barbarians and Arians ; St 
Ambrose, with a noble courage, stopped the 
Emperor at the door of the Basilica of Milan, 
and forbad him to enter, till he had atoned for 
the fatal order by public penance. The Caesar sub 
mitted nobly to the noble demand; and the re 
pentance of Theodosius is the last scene in the 
downward career of the Csesars, which can call 
forth a feeling of admiration and respect. 

In January 395 Theodosius died ; and after 
him came the deluge. 

The Empire was parted between his two worth 
less sons. Honorius had the west, Arcadius the 
east; while the real master of the Empire was 
Stilicho the Vandal, whose virtues and valour and 
mighty stature are sung (and not undeservedly) in 
the pompous verses of Claudian. Of the confusion 
which ensued; of the murder (well-deserved) of 
Rufinus, the infamous minister whose devout hypo 
crisy had so long cajoled Theodosius; of the revolt 
and atrocities of Gildo in Africa, you must read 
in the pages of Gibbon. These lectures confine 
themselves, at present, to the history of the Goths. 


In January 395 I said, Theodosius died. Be 
fore the end of the winter the Goths were in 
arms, with Alaric the Balth at their head. They 
had been refused, at least for the time, the pay 
ment of their usual subsidy. He had been re 
fused the command of the Eoman armies. Any 
excuse was sufficient. The fruit was ripe for 
plucking. The wrongs of centuries were to be 
avenged. Other tribes crost the Danube on the 
ice, and joined the Goths; and the mighty host 
swept down through Greece, passing Thermopylae 
unopposed, ransoming Athens (where Alaric enjoy 
ed a Greek bath and a public banquet, and tried 
to behave for a day like a Roman gentleman); 
sacking Corinth, Argos, Sparta, and all the cities 
and villages far and wide, and carrying off plun 
der inestimable, and troops of captive women. 

Stilicho threw himself into the Peloponnese 
at Corinth to cut off the Goths, and after heavy 
fighting, Alaric, who seems to have been a really 
great general, out-manoeuvred him, crost the Gulf 
of Corinth at Rhium, with all his plunder and cap 
tives, and got safe away into northern Greece. 

There Arcadius, the terrified Emperor of the 
East, punished him for having devastated Greece, 
by appointing him Master-General of the very 
country which he had ravaged. The end was com 
ing very near. The Goths lifted him on the shield, 
and proclaimed him King of the West Goths ; 
and there he staid, somewhere about the head of 


the Adriatic, poised like an eagle in mid-air, watch 
ing Rome on one side, and Byzant on the other, 
uncertain on which quarry he should swoop. 

He made up his mind for Rome. He would 
be the man to do the deed at last. There was 
a saga in which he trusted. Claudian gives it 
in an hexameter, 

Alpibus Italise mptis penetrabis ad urbem. 

Yes, he would take The City, and avenge the 
treachery of Valens, and all the wrongs which 
Teutons had endured from the Romans for now 
four centuries. And he did it. 

But not the first time. He swept over the 
Alps. Honorius fled to Asta, and Alaric be 
sieged him there. The faithful Stilicho came to 
the rescue; and Alaric was driven to extremi 
ties. His warriors counselled him to retreat. 
No, he would take Rome, or die. But at Pol- 
lentia, Stilicho surprised him, while he and his 
Goths were celebrating Easter Sunday, and a 
fearful battle followed. The Romans stormed his 
camp, recovered the spoils of Greece, and took 
his wife, decked in the jewels in which she meant 
to enter Rome. One longs to know what became 
of her. 

At least, so say the Romans : the Goths tell 
a very different story ; and one suspects that 
Pollentia may be one more of those splendid 
paper victories, in which the Teutons were utterly 


exterminated, only to rise out of the ground, 
seemingly stronger and more numerous than ever. 
At least, instead of turning his head to the Alps, 
he went on toward Home. Stilicho dared not 
fight him again, and bought him off. He turned 
northward toward Gaul, and at Verona Sti 
licho got him at an advantage, and fought him 
once more, and if we are to believe Rosino and 
Claudian, beat him again. a Taceo de Alarico, 
saepe victo, ssepe concluso, semperque dimisso." 
'It is ill work trapping an eagle/ says some one. 
When you have caught him, the safest thing very 
often is to let him go again. 

Meanwhile poured down into Italy, as far as 
Florence (a merely unimportant episode in those 
fearful days), another wave of German invaders 
under one Radogast, 200,000 strong. Under the 
walls of Florence they sat down, and perished 
of wine, and heat, and dysentery. Like water 
they flowed in, and like water they sank into 
the soil : and every one of them a human soul. 

Stilicho and Honorius went to Rome, and 
celebrated their triumph over the Goths, with (for 
the last time in history) gladiatorial sports. Three 
years past, and then Stilicho was duly rewarded 
for having saved Rome, in the approved method 
for every great barbarian who was fool enough 
to help the treacherous Roman ; namely, by being 

Alaric rose instantly, and with him all the 


Gothic tribes. Down through Italy he past, al 
most without striking a blow. Ravenna, infamous, 
according to Sidonius, for its profligacy, where 
the Emperor's court was, he past disdainfully, 
and sat down before the walls of Rome. He 
did not try to storm it. Probably he could not. 
He had no such machines, as those with which 
the Romans battered walls. Quietly he sat, he and 
his Goths, 'as wolves wait round the dying buf 
falo ;' waiting for the Romans within to starve and 
die. They did starve and die; men murdered each 
other for food ; mothers ate their own babes ; but 
they sent out embassies, boasting of their strength 
and numbers. Alaric laughed, ( The thicker the 
hay, the easier it is mowed/ What terms would 
he take? 'All your gold, all your silver, the 
best of your precious things. All your barbarian 
slaves/ That last is significant. He would deliver 
his own flesh and blood. The Teuton man should 
be free. The trolls should drag no more of the 
forest children into their accursed den. 'What 
then will you leave us ? ' ' Your lives/ 

They bought him off with a quaint ransom : 
5000 pounds weight of gold, 30,000 of silver, 4000 
robes of silk, 3000 pieces of scarlet cloth, and 
Sooolbs. of pepper, possibly spices of all kinds. 
Gold, and finery, and spices gifts fit for children, 
such as those Goths were. 

But he got, too, 40,000 Teuton slaves safe 
out of the evil place, and embodied them into 


his army. He had now 100,000 fighting men. 
Why did he not set up as king of Italy ? "Was 
it that the awe of the place, the prestige of the 
Roman name, cowed him ? It cowed each of the 
Teutonic invaders successively. To make them 
selves emperors of Rome was a thing of which 
they dared not dream. Be that as it may, all 
he asked was, to be received as some sort of 
vassal of the Emperor. The Master- Generalship 
of Italy, subsidies for his army, an independent 
command in the Tyrolese country, whence he had 
come, were his demand. 

Overblown with self-conceit, the Romans re 
fused him. They would listen to no conditions. 
They were in a thoroughly Chinese temper. You 
will find the Byzantine empire in the same temper 
centuries after; blinded to present weakness by 
the traditions of their forefathers' strength. They 
had worshipped the beast. Now that only his 
image was left, they worshipped that. 

Alaric seized Ostia, and cut off their supplies. 
They tried to appease him by dethroning Honorius, 
and setting up some puppet Attalus. Alaric 
found him plotting ; or said that he had done so ; 
and degraded him publicly at Rimini before his 
whole army. Again he offered peace. The in 
sane Romans proclaimed that his guilt precluded 
him for ever from the clemency of the Empire. 

Then came the end. He marched on Rome. 
The Salarian gate was thrown open at midnight, 


probably by German slaves within ; and then, for 
five dreadful days and nights, the wicked city ex 
piated in agony the sins of centuries. 

And so at last the Nibelungen hoard was won. 

'And the kings of the earth who had lived deli 
cately with her, and the merchants of the earth 
who were made rich by her, bewailed her, standing 
afar off for the fear of her torment, and crying, 
Alas ! alas, that great Babylon ! for in one hour 
is thy judgment come.' 

St John passes in those words from the region 
of symbol to that of literal description. A great 
horror fell upon all nations, when the news came. 
Rome taken? Surely the end of all things was 
at hand. The wretched fugitives poured into 
Egypt and Syria especially to Jerusalem ; per 
haps with some superstitious hope that Christ's 
tomb, or even Christ himself, might save them. 

St Jerome, as he saw day by day patrician men 
and women who had passed their lives in luxury, 
begging their bread around his hermitage at 
Bethlehem, wrote of the fall of Rome as a man 

St Augustine, at Hippo, could only look on it 
as the end of all human power and glory, perhaps 
of the earth itself. Babylon the great had fallen, 
and now Christ was coming in the clouds of heaven 
to set up the city of God for ever. In that thought 
he wrote his De Civitate Dei. Read it, gentlemen 
especially you who are to be priests not merely 



for its details of the fall of Rome, but as the 
noblest theodicy which has yet proceeded from a 
human pen. 

Followed by long trains of captives, long trains 
of waggons bearing the spoils of all the world, 
Alaric went on South, ' with the native instinct of 
the barbarian/ as Dr Sheppard well says. Always 
toward the sun. Away from Muspelheim and the 
dark cold north, toward the sun, and Valhalla, 
where Odin and the Asas dwell in everlasting 

He tried to cross into Sicily: but a storm 
wrecked his boats, and the Goths were afraid of 
the sea. And after a while he died. And the 
wild men made a great mourning over him. They 
had now no plan left ; no heart to go south, and 
look for Odin over the sea. But of one thing they 
were resolved, that the base Romans should not 
dig up Alaric out of his barrow and scatter his 
bones to the winds. 

So they put no barrow over the great king ; but 
under the walls of Cosenza they turned the river 
bed, and in that river-bed they set Alaric, armed 
and mailed, upright upon his horse, with gold, and 
jewels, and arms, and it may be captive youths 
and maids, that he might enter into Valhalla in 
royal pomp, and make a worthy show among the 
heroes in Odin's hall. And then they turned back 
the river into its bed, and slew the slaves who 
had done the work, that no man might know 


where Alaric lies : and no man does know till this 

As I said, they had no plan left now. Two 
years they stayed in Campania, basking in the 
villas and gardens, drinking their fill of the wine ; 
and then flowed away northward again, no one 
knows why. They had no wish to settle, as they 
might have done. They followed some God-given 
instinct, undiscoverable now by us. Ataulf, Alaric's 
kinsman, married Placidia, the Emperor's beautiful 
young sister, and accepted from him some sort of 
commission to fight against his enemies in Gaul. 
So to the south of Gaul they went, and then 
into Spain, crushing before them Alans, Sueves, 
and Vandals, and quarrelling among themselves. 
Ataulf was murdered, and all his children; Pla 
cidia put to shame. Then she had her revenge. 
To me it is not so much horrible as pitiful. They 
had got the Nibelungen hoard ; and with it the 
Nibelungen curse. 

A hundred years afterwards, when the Franks 
pillaged the Gothic palace of Narbonne, they found 
the remnants of it. Things inestimable, indescri 
bable ; tables of solid emerald ; the Missorium, a 
dish 2500 Ibs. weight, covered with all the gems 
of India. They had been in Solomon's Temple, 
fancied the simple Franks as indeed some of them 
may well have been. The Arabs got the great 
emerald table at last, with its three rows of great 
pearls. "Where are they all now ? What is become, 


gentlemen, of the treasures of Rome? Jewels, re 
collect, are all but indestructible ; recollect, too, 
that vast quantities were buried from time to time, 
and their places forgotten. Perhaps future gene 
rations will discover many such hoards. Mean 
while, many of those same jewels must be in actual 
use even now. Many a gem which hangs now on 
an English lady's wrist saw Alaric sack Rome and 
saw before and since What not? The palaces of 
the Pharaohs, or of Darius ; then the pomp of the 
Ptolemies, or of the Seleucids came into Europe 
on the neck of some vulgar drunken wife of a 
Roman proconsul, to glitter for a few centuries at 
every gladiator's butchery in the amphitheatre ; 
then went away with Placidia on a Gothic ox- 
waggon, to pass into an Arab seraglio at Seville ; 
and then, perhaps, back from Sultan to Sultan 
again to its native India, to figure in the peacock- 
throne of the Great Mogul, and be bought at last 
by some Armenian for a few rupees from an English 
soldier, and come hither and whither next? When 
England shall be what Alexandria and Rome are 
now, that little stone will be as bright as ever. An 
awful symbol, if you will take it so, of the per 
manence of God's works and God's laws, amid the 
wild chance and change of sinful man. 

Then followed for Rome years of peace, such 
peace as the wicked make for themselves A 
troubled sea, casting up mire and dirt. Wicked 
women, wicked counts (mayors of the palace, one 


may call them) like Aetius and Boniface, the real 
rulers of a nominal Empire. 

Puppet Valeritinian succeeded his father, pup 
pet Honorius. In his days appeared another great 
portent another cornet, sweeping down out of in 
finite space, and back into infinite space again. 
Attila and his Huns. They lay in innumerable 
hordes upon the Danube, until Honoria, Valenti- 
nian's sister, confined in a convent at Constantino 
ple for some profligacy, sent her ring to A ttila. He 
must be her champion, and deliver her. He paused 
awhile, like Alaric before him, doubting whether 
to dash on Constantinople or Rome, and at last 
decided for Rome. But he would try Gaul first ; 
and into Gaul he poured, with all his Tartar hordes, 
and with them all the Teuton tribes, who had 
gathered in his progress, as an avalanche gathers 
the snow in its course. At the great battle of 
Chalons, in the year 451, he fought it out: Hun, 
Sclav, Tartar, and Finn, backed by Teutonic Gepid 
and Herule, Turkling, East Goth and Lombard, 
against Roman and West Goth, Frank and Bur- 
gund, and the Bretons of Armorica. Wicked Ae 
tius shewed himself that day, as always, a general 
and a hero the Marlborough of his time and 
conquered. Attila and his hordes rolled away east 
ward, and into Italy for Rome. 

That is the Hunnenschlacht ; ' a battle/ as 
Jornandes calls it, 'atrox, multiplex, immane, per- 
tinax.' Antiquity, he says, tells of nothing like 



it. No man who had lost that sight could say that 
he had seen aught worth seeing. A fight gigantic, 
supernatural in vastness and horror, and the le 
gends which still hang about the place. You may 
see one of them in Von Kaulbach's immortal de 
sign the ghosts of the Huns and the ghosts of 
the Germans rising from their graves on the battle- 
night in every year, to fight it over again in the 
clouds, while the country far and wide trembles at 
their ghostly hurrah. No wonder men remember 
that Hunnenschlacht. Many consider that it saved 
Europe; that it was one of the decisive battles of 
the world. 

Not that Attila was ruined. Within the year 
he had swept through Germany, crossed the Alps, 
and devastated Italy almost to the walls of Rome. 
And there the great Pope Leo, 'the Cicero of 
preaching, the Homer of theology, the Aristotle of 
true philosophy/ met th^ wild heathen: and a 
sacred horror fell upon Attila, and he turned, and 
went his way, to die a year or two after no man 
knows how. Over and above his innumerable 
wives, he took a beautiful German girl. When his 
people came in the morning, the girl sat weeping, 
or seeming to weep ; but Etzel, the scourge of God, 
lay dead in a pool of gore. She said that he 
had burst a blood-vessel. The Teutons whispered 
among themselves, that like a free-born Teuton, 
she had slain her tyrant. One longs to know 
what became of her. 


And then the hordes broke up. Ardarich 
raised the Teuton Gepids and Ostrogoths. The 
Teutons who had obeyed Attila, turned on their 
Tartar conquerors, the only people who had ever 
subdued German men, and then only by brute 
force of overpowering numbers. At Netad, upon 
the great plain between the Drave and the Danube, 
they fought the second Hunnenschlacht, and the 
Germans conquered. Thirty thousand Huns fell 
on that dreadful day, and the rest streamed away 
into the heart of Asia, into the infinite unknown 
deserts from whence the foul miscreants had 
streamed forth, and left the Teutons masters of the 
world. The battle of Netad ; that, and not Cha- 
IODS, to my mind, was the saving battle of Europe. 

So Rome was saved ; but only for a few years. 
Puppet Yalentinian rewarded Aetius for saving 
Rome, by stabbing with his own hand in his own 
palace, the hero of Ch&lons; and then went on to 
fill up the cup of his iniquity. It is all more like 
some horrible romance than sober history. Neg 
lecting his own wife Eudoxia, he took it into his 
wicked head to ravish her intimate friend, the wife 
of a senator. Maximus stabbed him, retaliated 
on the beautiful empress, and made himself Em 
peror. She sent across the seas to Afric, to 
Genseric the Vandal, the cruel tyrant and per 
secutor. He must come and be her champion, as 
Attila had been Honoria's. And he came, with 
Vandals, Moors, naked Ausurians from the Atlas. 



The wretched Romans, in their terror, tore Maxi- 
mus in pieces; but it was too late. Eudoxia met 
Genseric at the gates in royal robes and jewels. 
He stript her of her jewels on the spot, and sacked 
Rome ; and that was her reward. 

This is the second sack. More dreadful far than 
the first 455 is its date. Then it was that the 
statues, whose fragments are still found, were 
hurled in vain on the barbarian assailants. Not 
merely gold and jewels, but the art- treasures of 
Rome were carried off to the Vandal fleet, and 
with them the golden table and the seven- 
branched candlestick which Titus took from the 
Temple of Jerusalem. 

How had these things escaped the Goths forty 
years before ? We cannot tell. Perhaps the Go 
thic sack, which only lasted five days, was less 
complete than this one, which went on for fourteen 
days of unutterable horrors. The plunderers were 
not this time sturdy honest Goths; not even Ger 
man slaves, mad to revenge themselves on their 
masters : they were Moors, Ausurian black sa 
vages, and all the pirates and cut-throats of the 

Sixty thousand prisoners were carried off to 
Carthage. All the statues were wrecked on the 
voyage to Africa, and lost for ever. 

And yet Rome did not die. She lingered on ; 
her Emperor still calling himself an Emperor, her 
senate a senate ; feeding her lazy plebs, as best 


she could, with the remnant of those revenues 
which former Emperors had set aside for their 
support their public bread, public pork, public 
oil, public wine, public baths, and leaving them 
to gamble and quarrel, and listen to the lawyers 
in rags and rascality, and to rise and murder ruler 
after ruler, benefactor after benefactor, out of base 
jealousy and fear of any one less base than them 
selves. And so 'the smoke of her torment went 
up continually.' 

But if Rome would not die, still less would 
she repent ; as it is written < The remnant of the 
people repented not of their deeds, but gnawed 
their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God 
of heaven.' 

As the century runs on, the confusion be 
comes more and more dreadful. Anthemius, Oly- 
brius,, Orestes, and the other half-caste Romans 
with Greek names who become quasi-emperors 
and get murdered ; Ricimer the Sueve, the king 
maker and king-murderer; even good Majorian, 
who as puppet Emperor set up by Ricimer, tries 
to pass a few respectable laws, and is only mur 
dered all the sooner. None of these need de 
tain us. They mean nothing, they represent no 
idea, they are simply kites and crows quarrelling 
over the carcase, and cannot possibly teach us 
anything, but the terrible lesson, that in all 
revolutions the worst men are certain to rise to 
the top. 


But only for a while, gentlemen, only for a 
while. Villany is by its very essence self-destruc 
tive, and if rogues have their day, the time comes 
when rogues fall out, and honest men come by 
their own. 

That day, however, was not come for wretched 
Rome. A third time she was sacked, by Ricimer 
her own general ; and then more villains ruled 
her ; and more kites and crows plundered her. 
The last of them only need keep us a while. He 
is Odoacer, the giant Herule, Houd-y-wacker, as 
some say his name really is, a soubriquet perhaps 
from his war-cry, ' Hold ye stoutly/ ' Stand you 
steady.' His father was ^Edecon, Attila's secre 
tary, chief of the little Turkling tribe, who, though 
Teutonic, had clung faithfully to Attila's sons, and 
after the battle of Netad, came to ruin. There are 
strange stories of Odoacer. One from the Lives 
of St Severinus, how Odoacer and his brothers 
started over the Alps, knapsacks at back, to 
seek their fortunes in Italy, and take service with 
the Romans ; and how they came to S. Severi 
nus' cell near Vienna, and went in, heathens as 
they probably were, to get a blessing from the 
holy hermit ; and how Odoacer had to stoop, 
and stand stooping, so huge he was. And how 
the saint saw that he was no common lad, 
and said, 'Go into Italy, clothed in thy ragged 
sheep-skins : thou shalt soon give greater gifts 
to thy friends.' So he went, and his brother with 


him. One of them at least ought to interest 
us. He was Onulf, Hunwulf, Wulf, Guelph, the 
Wolf-cub, who went away to Constantinople, 
and saw strange things, and did strange things 
likewise, and at last got back to Germany, 
and settled in Bavaria, and became the ancestor 
of all the Guelphs, and of Victoria, queen of 
England. His son, Wulfgang, fought under Beli- 
sarius against the Goths ; his son again, Ulgang, 
under Belisarius against Persian and Lombard ; 
his son or grandson was Queen Brunhilda's con 
fidant in France, and became Duke of Burgundy ; 
and after that the fortunes of his family were 
mixed up with the Merovingian kings of France, 
and then again with the Lombards in Italy, till 
one of them emerges as Guelf, count of Altorf, 
the ancestor of our Guelphic line. 

But to return to Odoacer. He came to 
Rome, seeking his fortune. There he found 
in power Orestes, his father's old colleague at 
Attila's court, the most unprincipled turn-coat 
of his day; who had been the Emperor's man, 
then Attila's man, and would be anybody's man 
if needed : but who was now his own man, being 
king-maker for the time being, and father of 
the puppet Emperor, Eomulus Augustulus, a 
pretty little lad, with an ominous name. 

Odoacer took service under Orestes in the 
body-guards, became a great warrior and popu 
lar ; watched his time ; and when Orestes refused 


the mercenaries, Herules, Rugians, Scyrings, 
Turklings and Alans all the weak or half-caste 
frontier tribes who had as yet little or no share 
in the spoils of Italy their demand of the third 
of the lands of Italy, he betrayed his benefactor ; 
promised the mercenaries to do for them what 
Orestes would not, and raises his famous band of 
confederates. At last he called himself King of 
Nations, burnt Pa via, and murdered Orestes, as a 
due reward for his benefits. Stripped of his purple, 
the last Emperor of Rome knelt crying at the 
feet of the German giant, and begged not to 
be murdered like his father. And the great wild 
beast's hard heart smote him, and he sent the 
poor little lad away, to live in wealth and peace 
in Lucullus' villa at Misenum, with plenty of 
money, and women, and gewgaws, to dream away 
his foolish life looking out over the fair bay of 
Naples the last Emperor of Rome. 

Then Odoacer set to work, and not alto 
gether ill. He gave his confederates the third 
of Italy, in fief under himself as king, and 
for fourteen years (not without the help of a 
few more murders) he kept some sort of rude 
order and justice in the wretched land. Remem 
ber him, for, bad man as he is, he does represent 
a principle. He initiated, by that gift of the 
lands to his soldiers, the feudal system in Italy. 
I do not mean that he invented it. It seems 
rather to be a primaeval German form, as old as 


the days of Tacitus, who describes, if you will 
recollect, the German war-kings as parting the 
conquered lands among their 'comites', thanes, 
or companions in arms. 

So we leave Odoacer king of Italy, for four 
teen years, little dreaming, perhaps, of the day 
when as he had done unto others so should it 
be done to him. But for that tale of just and 
terrible retribution you must wait till the next 

And now, to refresh us with a gleam of 
wholesome humanity after all these horrors, let 
us turn to our worthy West Goth cousins for a 
while. They have stopt cutting each other's 
throats, settled themselves in North Spain and 
South France, and good bishop Sidonius gets 
to like them. They are just and honest men on 
the whole, kindly, and respectable in morals, living 
according to their strange old Gothic Law. But 
above all Sidonius likes their king Theodoric is 
his name. A man of blood he has been in his 
youth : but he has settled down, like his people ; 
and here is a picture of him. A real photograph 
of a live old Goth, nearly 1400 years ago. 
Gibbon gives a good translation of it. I will 
give you one, but Sidonius is prolix and florid, 
and I have had to condense. 

A middle-sized, stout man, of great breadth 
of chest, and thickness of limb, a large hand, and 
a small foot, curly haired, bushy eye-browed, with 


remarkably large eyes and eyelids, hook-nosed, 
thin-lipped ; brilliant, cheerful, impassioned, full 
of health and strength in mind and body. He 
goes to chapel before day-light, sits till eight 
doing justice, while the crowd, let into a latticed 
enclosure, is admitted one by one behind a cur 
tain into the presence. At eight he leaves the 
throne, and goes either to count his money, or 
look at his horses. If he hunts, he thinks it 
undignified to carry his bow, and womanish to 
keep it strung, a boy carries it behind him ; and 
when game gets up, he asks you (or the Bishop, 
who seems to have gone hunting with him) what 
you would wish him to aim at ; strings his bow, 
and then (says Sidonius) never misses his shot. 
He dines at noon, quietly in general, magnifi 
cently on Saturdays; drinks very little, and in 
stead of sleeping after dinner, plays at tables and 
dice. He is passionately fond of his game, but 
never loses his temper, joking and talking to 
the dice, and to every one round him, throwing 
aside royal severity, and bidding all be merry 
(says the bishop); for, to speak my mind, what 
he is afraid of is, that people should be afraid 
of him. If he wins he is in immense good 
humour ; then is the time to ask favours of him ; 
and, says the crafty bishop, many a time have 
I lost the game, and won my cause thereby. At 
three begins again the toil of state. The knockers 
.return, and those who shove them away return 


too ; everywhere the litigious crowd murmurs 
round ; and follows him at evening, when he 
goes to supper, or gets its matters settled by the 
officers of the court, who have to stay there till 
bed-time. At supper, though there are but rarely 
'rnimici sales,' which I cannot translate some 
sort of jesting : but biting and cruel insults (com 
mon at the feasts of the Roman Emperors) are 
never allowed. His taste in music is severe. No 
water-organs, flute-player, lyrist, cymbal or harp- 
playing woman is allowed. All he delights in is 
the old Teutonic music, whose virtue (says the 
bishop) soothes the soul no less than does its 
sound the ear. When he rises from table the 
guards for the night are set, and armed men 
stand at all the doors, to watch him through the 
first hours of sleep. 



LET us follow the fortunes of Italy and of Home. 
They are not only a type of the fortunes of the 
whole western world, but the fortunes of that 
world, as you will see, depend on Rome. 

You must recollect, meanwhile, that by the 
middle of the fifth century, the Western Empire 
had ceased to exist. The Angles and Saxons were 
fighting their way into Britain. The Franks were 
settled in north France and the lower Rhine- 
land. South of them, the centre of Gaul still re 
mained Roman, governed by Counts of cities, who 
were all but independent sovereigns, while they 
confest a nominal allegiance to the Emperor of 
Constantinople. Their power was destined soon 
to be annihilated by the conquests of Clovis and 
his Franks as false and cruel ruffians as their 
sainted king, the first-born son of the Church. 
The history of Gaul for some centuries becomes 


henceforth a tissue of internecine horrors, which 
you must read for yourselves in the pages of 
M. Sismondi, or of Gregory of Tours. The Alle- 
inanni (whose name has become among the Franks 
the general name for Germans) held the lands 
from the Maine to the Blisetian Alps. The 
Burgunds, the lands to the south-west of them, 
comprising the greater part of south-east Gaul. 
The West Goths held the south-west of Gaul, 
and the greater part of Spain, having thrust the 
Sueves, and with them some Alans, into Galli- 
cia, Asturias, and Portugal; and thrust, also, the 
Vandals across the straits of Gibraltar, to found 
a prosperous kingdom along the northern shore 
of Africa. The East Goths, meanwhile, after 
various wanderings to the north of the Alps, 
lay in the present Austria and in the Danube 
lands, resting after their great struggle with the 
Huns, and their crowning victory of Netad. 

To follow the fortunes of Italy, we must fol 
low those of these East Goths, and especially of 
one man among them, Theodoric, known in Ger 
man song as Dietrich of Bern or Verona. 

Interesting exceedingly to us should this great 
hero be. No man's history better shews the 
strange relations between the Teutons and the 
dying Empire : but more ; his life is the first in 
stance of a Teuton attempting to found a civilized 
and ordered state, upon experience drawn from 
Eoman sources; of the young world trying to build 


itself up some sort of dwelling out of the ruins 
of the old. Dietrich failed, it is true. But if the 
thing had been then possible, he seems to have been 
the man to have done it. He lived and laboured 
like what he was a royal Amal, a true son of 
Woden. Unable to write, he founded a great king 
dom by native virtue and common sense. Called a 
barbarian, he restored prosperity to ruined Italy, 
and gave to it (and with it to the greater part of 
the western world), peace for three and thirty years. 
Brought up among hostile sects, he laid down that 
golden law of religious liberty which the nine 
teenth century has not yet courage and humanity 
enough to accept. But if his life was heroic, his 
death was tragic. He failed after all in his vast 
endeavours, from causes hidden from him, but 
visible, and most instructive, to us ; and after 
having toiled impartially for the good of con 
querors and of conquered alike, he died sadly, 
leaving behind him a people who, most of them, 
believed gladly the news that a holy hermit had 
seen his soul hurled down the crater of Stromboli, 
as a just punishment for the inexpiable crime of 
being wiser than his generation. 

Some have complained of Gibbon's ' hero-wor 
ship' of Dietrich I do not. The honest and 
accurate cynic so very seldom worshipped a hero, 
or believed in the existence of any, that we may 
take his good opinion as almost final and without 
appeal. One author, for whose opinion I have 


already exprest a very high respect, says that he was 
but a wild man of the woods to the last; polished 
over skin-deep with Roman civilization : ' Scratch 
him, and you found the barbarian underneath 1 .' It 
may be true. If it be true, it is a very high 
compliment. It was not from his Roman civili 
zation, but from his ' barbarian' mother and father, 
that he drew the 'vive intelligence des choses 
morales, et ces inspirations elevees et heroiques,' 
which M. Thierry truly attributes to him. If 
there was, as M. Thierry truly says, another 
nature struggling within him is there not such 
in every man ? And are not the struggles the 
more painful, the temptations more dangerous, 
the inconsistencies too often the more shameful, 
the capacities for evil as well as for good, more 
huge, just in proportion to the native force and 
massiveness of the soul ? The doctrine may seem 
dangerous. It is dangerous, like many truths ; 
and woe to those who, being unlearned and un 
stable, wrest it to their own destruction ; and pre 
sume upon it to indulge their own passions, under 
Byronic excuses of 'genius' or 'muscular Christian 
ity.' But it is true nevertheless : so at least the 
Bible tells us, in its wonderful delineations of 
David, 'the man after God's own heart/ and of 
St Peter, the chief of the apostles. And there 
are points of likeness between the character of 

1 Dr Sheppard, p. 297. 


Dietrich, and that of David, which will surely 
suggest themselves to any acute student of human 
nature. M. Thierry attributes to him, as his worse 
self, ' les instincts les plus violents ; la cruaute, 
1'astuce, 1'egoisme impitoyable.' The two first 
counts are undeniable at least during his youth : 
they were the common vices of the age. The two 
latter I must hold as not proven by facts : but 
were they proven, they would still be excusable, 
on the simple ground of his Greek education. 
'Cunning and pitiless egotism' were the only moral 
qualities which Dietrich is likely to have seen 
exercised at the court of Constantinople : and 
what wonder, if he was somewhat demoralized by 
the abominable atmosphere which he breathed 
from childhood ? Dietrich is an illustration of 
the saga with which these lectures began. He 
is the very type of the forest child, bewitched by 
the fine things of the wicked Troll garden. The 
key to the man's character, indeed the very glory 
of it, is the long struggle within him, between 
the Teutonic and the Greek elements. Dazzled 
and debauched, at times, by the sinful glories 
of the Bosphorus, its palaces, its gold, and its 
women, he will break the spell desperately. He 
will become a wild Goth and an honest man 
once more; he will revenge his own degradation 
on that court and empire which he knows well 
enough to despise, distrust and hate. Again and 
again the spell comes over him. His vanity and 


his passions make him once more a courtier among 
the Greeks: but the blood of Odin is strong 
within him still; again aid again he rises, with 
a noble shame, to virtue and patriotism, trampling 
under foot selfish luxury and glory, till the vic 
tory is complete; and he turns away in the very 
moment of the greatest temptation, from the be 
witching city, to wander, fight, starve, and at last 
conquer a new land for himself and for his nation ; 
and shew, by thirty years of justice and wisdom, 
what that true Dietrich was, which had been so 
long overlaid by the false Dietrich of his sinful 

Look at the facts of his history, as they stand, 
and see whether they do not bear out this, and no 
other, theory of his character. 

The year was 455, two years after Attila's 
death. Near Vienna a boy was born, of Theodemir 
one of the Gothic kings and his favourite Eiieva. 
He was sent when eight years old to Constanti 
nople as a hostage. The Emperor Leo had agreed 
to pay the Goths 300 pounds of gold every year, 
if they would but leave him in peace ; and young 
Dietrich was the pledge of the compact. There 
he grew up amid all the wisdom of the Romans, 
watching it all, and yet never even learning to 
write. It seems to some that the German did 
not care to learn ; it seems to me rather that 
they did not care to teach. He came back to 
his people at eighteen, delighted them by his 



strength and stature, and became, to all appear 
ance, a Goth of the Goths; going adventures with 
six thousand volunteers against the Sarmatse, 
who had just defeated the Greeks, and taken a 
city which he retook, but instead of restoring it 
to the Emperor, kept himself. Food becoming 
scarce in Austria, the Ostrogoths moved some 
into Italy, some down on Illyria and Thessaly ; 
and the Emperor gracefully presented them with 
the country of which they had already taken 

In every case, you see, this method went on. 
The failing Emperors bought off the Teutons 
where they could ; submitted to them where they 
could not ; and readily enough turned on them 
when they had a chance. The relations between 
the two parties can be hardly better explained, 
than by comparing them to those between the 
English adventurers in Hindostan and the falling 
Rajahs and Sultans of the last century. 

After a while Theodoric, or Dietrich, found him 
self, at his father's, death, sole king of the Ostro 
goths. This period of his life is very obscure : but 
one hint at least we have, which may explain his 
whole future career. Side by side with him and 
with his father before him, there was another 
"Dietrich Dietrich the One-eyed, son of Triar, a 
low-born adventurer, who had got together the 
remnants of some low-caste tribes, who were called 
the Goths of Thrace, and was swaggering about 


the court of Constantinople, as, when the East 
Goths first met him, what we call "Warden of 
the Marches, with some annual pay for his Goths. 
He was insolent to Theodemir and his family, and 
they retaliated by bitter hatred. It was intoler 
able for them, Amals, sons of Odin, to be in 
sulted by this upstart. So they went on for 
years, till the miserable religious squabble fell 
out you may read it in Gibbon which ended 
in the Emperor Zeno, a low-born and cunning 
man, suspected of the murder of his own son by 
the princess Ariadne, being driven out of Con 
stantinople by Basiliscus. We need not enter 
into such matters, except as far as they bear on 
the history -of Dietrich the Amal. Dietrich the 
One-eyed helped Basiliscus and then Zeno seems 
to have sent for Dietrich the Amal to help him. 
He came, but too late. Basiliscus' party had 
already broken up ; Basiliscus and his family had 
taken refuge in a church, from whence Zeno en 
ticed him, on the promise of shedding no blood, 
which he did not : but instead, put him, his wife 
and children, in a dry cistern, walled it up and 
left them. 

Dietrich the Amal rose into power and great 
glory, and became ' son-in-arms' to the Emperor. 
But the young Amal longed for adventures. He 
offered to take his Ostrogoths into Italy, drive 
out Odoacer, and seat on the throne of the West, 
Nepos, one of the many puppets who had been 


hurled off it a few years before. Zeno had need of 
the young hero nearer home, and persuaded him to 
stay in Constantinople, eat, drink, and be merry. 

Whereon Odoacer made Romulus Augustulus 
and the Roman Senate write to Zeno that they 
wanted no Emperor save him at Constantinople ; 
that they were very happy under the excellent 
Odoacer, and that they therefore sent to Zeno, as 
the rightful owner, all the Imperial insignia and 
ornaments ; things which may have been worn, 
some of them, by Augustus himself. And so 
ended, even in name, the Empire of Rome. All 
which the Amal saw, and, as will appear, did not 

Zeno gave the Amal all that the One-eyed 
had had before him, and paid the Ostrogoths 
yearly as he had paid the One-eye's men. The 
One-eyed was banished to his cantonments, and 
of course revolted. Zeno wanted to buy him off, 
but the Amal would not hear of it ; he would not 
help the Romans against his rival, unless they 
swore perpetual enmity against him. 

They did so, and he marched to the assistance 
of the wretched Empire. He was to be met by 
Roman reinforcements at the Hsemus. They 
never came ; and the Amal, disgusted and dis 
heartened, found himself entangled in the defiles 
of the Haemus, starving and worn out ; with the 
One-eyed entrenched on an inaccessible rock, 
where he dared not attack him. 


Then followed an extraordinary scene. The 
One-eyed came down again and again from his 
rock, and rode round the Amal's camp, shouting 
to him words so true, that one must believe them 
to have been really spoken. 

' Perjured boy, madman, betrayer of your 
race do you not see that the Roman plan is 
as always to destroy Goths by Goths ? Which 
ever of us falls, they, not we, will be the stronger. 
They never met you as they promised, at the 
cities, nor here. They have sent you out here to 
perish in the desert.' 

Then the East Goths raised a cry. ' The One- 
eyed is right. The Amal cares not that these men 
are Goths like ourselves.' 

Then the One-eyed appeals to the Goths them 
selves, as he curses the Amal. 

' Why are you killing your kinsmen ? Why 
have you made so many widows ? Where is all 
their wealth gone, they who set out to fight for 
you ? Each of them had two or three horses : but 
now they are walking on foot behind you like slaves, 
free-men as well-born as yourself : and you pro 
mised to measure them out gold by the bushel.' 

Was it not true ? If young Dietrich had in 
him (and he shewed that he had in after years) a 
Teuton's heart, may not that strange interview 
have opened his eyes to his own folly, and taught 
him that the Teuton must be his own master, 
and not the mercenary of the Romans ? 


The men cried out that it was true. He must 
make peace with the One-eyed, or they would do 
it themselves; and peace was made. They both 
sent ambassadors to Zeno ; the Amal complain 
ing of treachery ; the One-eyed demanding in 
demnity for all his losses. The Emperor was furi 
ous. He tried to buy off the Arnal by marrying 
him to a princess of the blood royal, and making 
him a Caesar. Dietrich would not consent ; he felt 
that it was a snare. Zeno proclaimed the One- 
eyed an enemy to the Empire ; and ended by 
reinstating him in his old honours, and taking 
them from the Amal. The Amal became furious, 
burnt villages, slaughtered the peasants, even (the 
Greeks say) cut off the hands of his captives. 
He had broken with the Romans at last. The 
Roman was astride of him, and of all Teutons, 
like Sindbad's old man of the sea. The only 
question, as with Sindbad, was whether he should 
get drunk, and give them a chance of throwing 
the perfidious tyrant. And now the time was 
come. He was compelled to ask himself, not 
what shall I be in relation to myself: but what 
shall I be in relation to the Kaiser of the Romans 
a mercenary, a slave, or a conqueror for one 
of the three I must be? 

So it went on, year after year sometimes with 
terrible reverses for Dietrich, till the year 480. 
Then the old One-eyed died, in a strange way. 
Mounting a wild horse at the tent-door, the beast 


reared before he could get his seat ; afraid of 
pulling it over by the curb, he let it go. A lance, 
in Gothic fashion, was hanging at the tent-door, 
and the horse plunged the One-eyed against it. 
The point went deep into his side, and the old 
fighting man was at rest for ever. 

And then came a strange peripeteia for the 
Amal. Zeno, we know not why, sent instantly 
for him. He had been ravaging, pursuing, de 
feating Roman troops, or being defeated by them. 
Now he must come to Rome. His Goths should 
have the Lower Danube. He should have glory 
and honour to spare. He came. His ideal, at 
this time, seems actually to have been to live 
like a Roman citizen in Constantinople, and help 
to govern the Empire. Recollect, he was still 
little more than five and twenty years old. 

So he went to Constantinople, and I suppose 
with him the faithful mother, and faithful sister, 
who had been with him in all his wanderings. 
He had a triumph decreed him at the Emperor's 
expense, was made Consul Ordinarius ('which/ 
saith Jornandes, 'is accounted the highest good 
and chief glory in the world') and Master-general, 
and lodged in the palace. 

What did it all mean ? Dietrich was dazzled 
by it, at least for a while. "What it meant, he 
found out too soon. He was to fight the Em 
peror's battles against all rebels, and he fought 
them, to return irritated, complaining (justly or 


unjustly) of plots against his life ; to be pacified, 
like a child, with the honour of an equestrian 
statue ; then to sink down into Byzantine luxury 
for seven inglorious years, with only one flashing 
out of the ancient spirit, when he demanded to go 
alone against the Bulgars, arid killed their king 
with his own hand. 

What woke him from his dream ? The cry of 
his starving people. 

The Goths, settled on the lower Danube, had 
been living, as wild men and mercenaries live, reck 
lessly from hand to mouth, drinking and gambling 
till their families were in want. They send to the 
Amal. ( While thou art revelling at Kornan ban 
quets, we are starving come back ere we are 

They were jealous, too, of the success of Odo- 
acer and his mercenaries. He was growing now 
to be a great power; styling himself 'King of 
nations*/ giving away to the Visigoths the Nar- 
bonnaise, the last remnant of the Western Em 
pire ; collecting round him learned Romans like 
Symrnachus, Boethius, and Cassiodorus ; respect 
ing the Catholic clergy; and seemingly doing 
his best to govern well. His mercenaries, how 
ever, would not be governed. Under their violence 
and oppression agriculture and population were 
both failing ; till Pope Gelasius speaks of ( ^Erni- 

* Had he actually taken the name of Theodoric, Theuderic, 
Dietrich, which signifies much the same thing as ' King of nations'? 


lia, Tuscia, ceterseque provinciae in quibus nullus 
prope hominurn existit/ 

Meanwhile there seems to have been a deep 
hatred on the part of the Goths to Odoacer 
and his mercenaries. Dr Sheppard thinks that 
they despised him himself as a man of low birth. 
But his father ^Edecon had been chief of the 
Turklings, and was most probably of royal blood. 
It is very unlikely, indeed, that so large a number 
of Teutons would have followed any man who 
had not Odin's blood in his veins. Was there a 
stain on Odoacer from his early connexion with 
Attila? Or was the hatred against his men more 
than himself, contempt especially of the low-caste 
Herules, a question of race, springing out of 
those miserable tribe-feuds, which kept the Teu 
tons always divided and weak? Be that as it 
may, Odoacer had done a deed which raised this 
hatred to open fury. He had gone over the 
Alps into Rugiland (then Noricum, and the 
neighbourhood of Vienna) and utterly destroyed 
those of the Rugien who had not gone into Italy 
under his banner. They had plundered, it is said, 
the cell of his old friend St Severinus, as soon as 
the saint died, of the garments laid up for the 
poor, and a silver cup, and the sacred vessels of 
the mass. Be that as it may, Odoacer utterly 
exterminated them, and carried their king Fele- 
theus, or Fava, back to Italy, with Gisa his 
'noxious wife;' and with them many Roman Chris- 


tians, and (seemingly) the body of St Severinus 
himself. But this had been a small thing, if he 
had not advised himself to have a regular Roman 
triumph, with Fava, the captive king, walking 
beside his chariot ; and afterwards, in the approved 
fashion of the ancient Romans on such occasions, 
to put Fava to death in cold blood. 

The records of this feat are to be found, as 
far as I know them, in one short chapter (r. xix.) 
of Paulus Diaconus, and in Muratori's notes 
thereto ; but however small the records, the deed 
decided the fate of Italy. Frederic, son of Fava, 
took refuge with the Ostrogoths, and demanded 
revenge in the name of his royal race ; and it is 
easy to conceive that the sympathies of the Goths 
would be with him. An attack (seemingly un 
provoked) on an ancient Teutonic nation by a 
mere band of adventurers was or could easily be 
made a grievous wrong, and clear casus belli, 
over and above the innate Teutonic lust for fight 
ing and adventures, simply for the sake of 'the 

Dietrich went back, and from that day, the 
dream of eastern luxury was broken, and young 
Dietrich was a Goth again, for good and for evil. 

He assembled the Goths, and marched straight 
011 Constantinople, burning and pillaging as he 
went. So say, at least, the Greek historians, of 
whom, all through this strange story, no one need 
believe more than he likes. Had the Goths had 


the writing of the life of Dietrich, we should have 
heard another tale. As it is, we have, as it were, 
a life of Lord Clive composed by the court scribes 
of Delhi. 

To no Roman would he tell what was in his 
mind. Five leagues from Constantinople he paused. 
Some say that he had compassion on the city 
where he had been brought up. Who can tell ? 
He demanded to speak to Zeno alone, and the 
father in arms and his wild son met once more. 
There was still strong in him the old Teutonic feu 
dal instinct. He was 'Zeno's man/ in spite of all. 
He asked (says Jornandes) Zeno's leave to march 
against Odoacer, and conquer Italy. Procopius 
and the Yalesian Fragment say that Zeno sent 
him, and that in case of success, he was to reign 
there till Zeno came. Zeno was, no doubt, glad 
to get rid of him at any price. As Ennodius 
well says, ' Another's honour made him remember 
his own origin, and fear the very legions which 
obeyed him for that obedience is suspected which 
serves the unworthy.' Rome was only nominally 
under Zeno's dominion; and it mattered little to 
him whether Herule or Gothic adventurer called 
himself his representative. 

Then was held a grand function. Dietrich, 
solemnly appointed * Patrician/ had Italy ceded to 
him by a ' Pragmatic ' sanction, and Zeno placed 
on his head the sacrum velamen, a square of 
purple, signifying in Constantinople things won- 


derful, august, imperial if they could only be 
made to come to pass. And he made them come 
to pass. He gathered all Teutonic heroes of every 
tribe, as well as his own ; and through Roumelia, 
and through the Alps, a long and dangerous 
journey, went Dietrich and his Goths, with their 
wives and children, and all they had, packed on 
waggons ; living on their flocks and herds, grind 
ing their corn in hand-mills, and hunting as they 
went, for seven hundred miles of march ; fighting 
as they went with Bulgars and Sarmatians, who 
had swarmed into the waste marches of Hungary 
and Carniola, once populous, cultivated, and full 
of noble cities ; fighting a desperate battle with 
the Gepidge, up to their knees in a morass ; till 
over the passes of the Julian Alps, where icicles 
hung upon their beards, and their clothes cracked 
with frost, they poured into the Venetian plains. 
It was a daring deed; and needed a spirit like 
Dietrich's to carry it through. 

Odoacer awaited him near the ruins of Aqui- 
leia. On the morning of the fight, as he was 
arming, Dietrich asked his noble mother to bring 
him some specially fine mantle, which she had 
embroidered for him, and put it over his armour, 
'that all men may see how he goes gayer into 
the fight than ever he did into feast. For this 
day she shall see whether she have brought a 
man-child into the world, or no/ 

And in front of Verona (where the plain was 


long white with human bones), he beat Odoacer, 
arid after a short and sharp campaign, drove him 
to Ravenna. But there, Roman fortifications, and 
Roman artillery, stopped, as usual, the Goth ; and 
Odoacer fulfilled his name so well, and stood so 
stout, that he could only be reduced by famine; 
and at last surrendered on terms, difficult now to 

Gibbon says, that there was a regular compact 
that they should enjoy equal authority, and refers 
to Procopius : but Procopius only says, that they 
should live together peaceably ' in that city.' Be 
that as it may, Odoacer and his party were de 
tected, after awhile, conspiring against Dietrich, 
and put to death in some dark fashion. Gib 
bon, as advocatus diaboli, of course gives the 
doubt against Dietrich, by his usual enthymeme 
All men are likely to be rogues, ergo, Dietrich 
was one. Rather hard measure, when one remem 
bers that the very men who tell the story are 
Dietrich's own enemies. By far the most import 
ant of them, the author of the Valesian Frag 
ment, who considers Dietrich damned as an Arian, 
and the murderer of Boethius and Symmachus, 
says plainly, that Odoacer plotted against his life. 
But it was a dark business at best. 

Be that as it may, Dietrich the Amal found 
himself in one day king of all Italy, without a 
peer. And now followed a three and thirty years' 
reign of wisdom, justice, and prosperity, unex- 


ampled in the history of those centuries. Between 
the days of the Antonines and those of Charle 
magne, I know no such bright spot in the dark 
history of Europe. 

As for his transferring the third of the lands 
of Italy, which had been held by Odoacer's men, 
to his own Goths, that was just or unjust (even 
putting out of the question the rights of conquest), 
according to what manner of men Odoacer's mer 
cenaries were, and what right they had to the 
lands. At least it was done so, says Cassiodo- 
rus, that it notoriously gave satisfaction to the 
Romans themselves. One can well conceive it. 
Odoacer's men had been lawless adventurers ; 
and now law was installed as supreme. Die 
trich, in his long sojourn at the Emperor's 
court, had discovered the true secret of Roman 
power, which made the Empire terrible even in 
her fallen fortunes; and that was Law. Law, 
which tells every man what to expect, and what 
is expected of him ; and so gives, if not content, 
still confidence, energy, industry. The Goths were 
to live by the Gothic law, the Romans by the 
Roman. To amalgamate the two races would 
have been as impossible as to amalgamate English 
and Hindoos. The parallel is really tolerably ex 
act. The Goth was very English ; and the over- 
civilized, learned, false, profligate Roman was the 
very counterpart of the modern Brahmin. But 
there was to be equal justice between man and 


inan. If the Goths were the masters of much 
of the Koman soil, still spoliation and oppression 
were forbidden ; and the remarkable edict or code 
of Theodoric, shews how deeply into his great 
mind had sunk the idea of the divineness of 
Law. It is short, and of Draconic severity, 
especially against spoliation, cheating, false in 
formers, abuse by the clergy of the rights of 
sanctuary, and all offences against the honour 
of women. I advise you all to study it, as an 
example of what an early Teutonic king thought 
men ought to do, and could be made to do. 

The Romans were left to their luxury and 
laziness; and their country villas (long deserted) 
were filled again by the owners. The Goths were 
expected to perform military service, and were 
drilled from their youth in those military evolu 
tions which had so often given the disciplined 
Roman the victory over the undisciplined Goth, 
till every pomcerium (boulevard), says Ennodius, 
might be seen full of boys and lads, learning to 
be soldiers. Everything meanwhile was done to 
soothe the wounded pride of the conquered. The 
senate of Rome was still kept up in name (as 
by Odoacer), her nobles flattered by sonorous 
titles, and the officers of the kingdom and the 
palace bore the same names as they would have 
done under Roman emperors. The whole was 
an attempt to develop Dietrich's own Goths 
by the only civilization which he knew, that of 


Constantinople: but to engraft on it an order, 
a justice, a freedom, a morality, which was the 
'barbarian' element. The treasures of Roman art 
were placed under the care of government officers ; 
baths, palaces, churches, aqueducts, were repair 
ed or founded ; to build seems to have been Die 
trich's great delight ; and we have left us, on a 
coin, some image of his own palace at Verona, 
a strange building with domes and minarets, some 
thing like a Turkish mosque ; standing, seemingly, 
on the arcades of some older Roman building. 
Dietrich the Goth may, indeed, be called the 
founder of ' Byzantine' architecture throughout 
the Western world. 

Meanwhile, agriculture prospered once more; 
the Pontine Marshes were drained; the imperial 
ports restored, and new cities sprang up. 'The 
new ones,' says Machiavelli, ' were Venice, Siena, 
Ferrara, Aquileia; and those which became ex 
tended were Florence, Genoa, Pisa, Milan, Naples 
and Bologna.' Of these the great sea-ports, espe 
cially Venice, were founded not by Goths, but by 
Roman and Greek fugitives : but it was the secu 
rity and liberality of Dietrich's reign which made 
their existence possible; and Venice really owes 
far more to the barbarian hero, than to the fabled 
patronage of St Mark. 

'From this devastation and new population,' 
continues Machiavelli, 'arose new languages, 
which, partaking of the native idiom of the new 


people, and of the old Roman, formed a new man 
ner of discourse. Besides, not only were the 
names of provinces changed, but also of lakes, 
rivers, seas, and men; for France, Spain, and 
Italy are full of fresh names, wholly different from 
the ancient.' 

This reign of Dietrich was, in fact, the birth- 
hour of modern Italy; and, as Machiavelli says, 
' brought the country to such a state of greatness, 
that her previous sufferings were unrecognizable.' 
We shall see hereafter how the great Goth's work 
was all undone ; and (to their everlasting shame) 
by whom it was undone. 

The most interesting records of the time are, 
without doubt, the letters of Cassiodorus, the king's 
Greek secretary and chancellor, which have come 
down to us in great numbers. There are letters 
among them on all questions of domestic and 
foreign policy : to the kings of the Yarni, kings 
of the Herules, kings of the Thuringer, (who 
were still heathens beyond the Black forest), call 
ing on them all to join him and the Burgundians, 
and defend his son-in-law Alaric II., king of the 
Visigoths, against Clovis and his Franks. There 
are letters, too, bearing on the religious feuds of 
the Roman population, and on the morals and 
social state of Rome itself, of which I shall say 
nothing in this lecture, having cause to refer to 
them hereafter. But if you wish to know the 
times, you must read Cassiodorus thoroughly. 



In his letters you will remark how most of the 
so-called Roman names are Greek. You will 
remark, too, as a sign of the decadence of taste 
and art, that though full of wisdom and practical 
morality, the letters are couched in the most won 
derful bombast to be met with, even in that age 
of infiniae Latinitatis. One can only explain their 
style by supposing that King Dietrich, having sup 
plied the sense, left it for Cassiodorus to shape it 
as he thought best ; and when the letter was read 
over to him, took for granted (being no scholar) 
that that was the way in which Roman Caesars 
and other cultivated personages ought to talk; 
admired his secretary's learning ; and probably 
laughed in his sleeve at the whole thing, thinking 
that ten words of honest German \vould have 
said all that he meant. As for understanding 
these flights of rhetoric, it is impossible that 
Dietrich could have done so : perhaps not even 
Cassiodorus himself. Take as one example, such a 
letter as this. After a lofty moral maxim, which 
I leave for you to construe 'In partem pieta- 
tis recidit mitigata districtio; et sub beneficio 
praestat, qui poenam debitam moderatione consi- 
derata palpaverit/ Jovinus the curial is informed, 
after the most complex method, that having first 
quarrelled with a fellow-curial, and then proceeded 
to kill him, he is banished for life to the isle of Vol 
cano, among the Liparis. As a curial is a gentle 
man and a government magistrate, the punish- 


ment is just enough; but why should Cassiodorus 
(certainly not King Dietrich) finish a short letter by 
a long dissertation on volcanoes in general, and 
Stromboli in particular, insisting on the wonder 
that the rocks, though continually burnt, are con 
tinually renewed by 'the inextricable potency of 
nature;' and only returning to Jovinus to inform 
him that he will henceforth follow the example of 
a salamander, which always lives in fire, ' being so 
contracted by natural cold, that it is tempered by 
burning flame. It is a thin and small animal, 
connected with worms, and clothed with a yellow 
colour; '...Cassiodorus then returns to the main 
subject of volcanoes, and ends with a story of Strom 
boli having broken out just as Hannibal poisoned 
himself at the court of Prusias; information which 
may have been interesting, though not consoling, 
to poor Jovinus, in the prospect of living there; 
but of which one would like to have had king Die 
trich's opinion. Did he felicitate himself like a 
simple Teuton, on the wonderful learning and elo 
quence of his Greek-Roman secretary ? Or did he 
laugh a royal laugh at the whole letter, and crack 
a royal joke at Cassiodorus and all quill-driving 
schoolmasters and lawyers the two classes of men 
whom the Goths hated especially, and at the end 
to which they by their pedantries had brought 
imperial Rome? One would like to know. For 
not only was Dietrich no scholar himself, but he 

9 2 


had a contempt for the very scholarship which he 
employed, and forbade the Goths to learn it as the 
event proved, a foolish and fatal prejudice. But 
it was connected in his mind with chicanery, 
effeminacy, and with the cruel and degrading 
punishments of children. Perhaps the ferula had 
been applied to him at Constantinople in old days. 
If so, no wonder that he never learnt to write. 
' The boy who trembles at a cane,' he used to 
say, 'will never face a lance.' His mother wit, 
meanwhile, was so shrewd that ' many of his say 
ings (says the unknown author of the invaluable 
Valesian fragment) remain among us to this day.' 
Two only, as far as I know, have been preserved, 
quaint enough : 

'He that has gold, or a devil, cannot hide it.' 


1 The Roman, when poor, apes the Goth: the Goth, 
when rich, apes the Roman.' 

There is a sort of Solomon's judgment, too, 
told of him, in the case of a woman who refused 
to acknowledge her own son, which w r as effectual 
enough ; but somewhat too homely to repeat. 

As for his personal appearance, it is given in a 
Saga; but I have not consulted it myself, and am 
no judge of its authenticity. The traditional 
description of him is that of a man almost beard 
less a rare case among the Goths with masses 
of golden ringlets, and black eyebrows over 'oculos 


csesios,' the blue grey eyes common to so many 
conquerors. A complexion so peculiar, that one 
must believe it to be truly reported. 

His tragic death, and the yet more tragic con 
sequences thereof, will be detailed in the next 



I HAVE now to speak to you on the latter end 
of Dietrich's reign made so sadly famous by the 
death of Boethius the last Roman philosopher, as 
he has been called for centuries, and not unjustly. 
His De Consolatione Philosophise is a book good 
for any man, full of wholesome and godly doctrine. 
For centuries it ranked as high as the highest 
classics ; higher perhaps at times than any book 
save the Bible, among not merely scholars, but 
statesmen. It is the last legacy of the dying old 
world to the young world which was trampling it 
out of life ; and therefore it is full of sadness. 
But beneath the sadness there is faith and hope ; 
for God is just, and virtue must be triumphant 
and immortal, and the absolute and only good for 
man. The whole story is very sad. Dietrich 
was one of those great men, who like Henry 
VIII., Elizabeth, Napoleon, or the late Czar 
Nicholas, have lived too long for their own honour. 


The old heathen would have attributed his mis 
adventures to a (j)9oi>os QGMV, an envy of the Gods, 
who will not abide to see men as prosperous as 
they themselves are. "We may attribute it more 
simply and more piously to the wear and tear of 
frail humanity. For it may be that very few 
human souls can stand for many years the strain 
of a great rule. I do not mean that they break 
down from overwork, but that they are pulled out 
of shape by it ; and that, especially, the will 
becomes enormously developed at the expense of 
the other powers of the soul, till the man becomes, 
as he grows older, imperious, careless of, or irri 
tated by counsel, determined to have his own way 
because it is his own way. We see the same 
tendency in all accustomed for a long while to 
absolute rule, even in petty matters; in the old 
ship's captain, the old head of a factory, the old 
master of hounds ; and we do not blame them 
for it. It is a disease incident to their calling, as 
pedantry is to that of a scholar, or astuteness to 
that of an attorney. But it is most dangerous in 
the greatest minds, and in the highest places ; and 
only to be kept off by them, as by us, each in our 
place, by honest self-examination, diligent prayer, 
and the grace of God which comes thereby. Once 
or twice in the world's history a great ruler, like 
Charles the Fifth, cuts the Gordian knot, and 
escapes into a convent: but how few can or 
ought to do that ? There are those who must go 


on ruling, or see their country ruined ; for all de 
pends on them. So had Queen Elizabeth to do; 
so had Dietrich of Bern likewise. After them 
would come the deluge, and did come ; and they 
must endure to the last, whatever it may cost to 
their own health of character, or peace of mind. 

But most painful, and most dangerous to the 
veteran sovereign, is it to have learnt to suspect, 
perhaps to despise, those whom he rules ; to have 
thrown away all his labour upon knaves and fools; 
to have cast his pearls before swine, and find them 
turning again and rending him. That feeling, 
forced from Queen Elizabeth, in her old age, that 
tragic cry, 'I am a miserable forlorn woman. There 
is none about me whom I can trust.' She was 
a woman, always longing for some one to love ; 
and her heart broke under it all. But do you 
not see that where the ruler is not an affectionate 
woman, but a strong proud man, the effect may be 
very different, and very terrible ? how, roused 
to indignation, scorn, suspicion, rage, he may turn 
to bay against his own subjects, with ' Scoundrels ! 
you have seen the fair side of my character, and in 
vain. Now you shall see the foul, and beware for 

Even so, I fancy, did old Dietrich turn to bay, 
and did deeds which have blackened his name for 
ever. Heaven forgive him ! for surely he had 
provocation enough and to spare. 

I have told you of the simple, half-superstitious 


respect which the Teuton had for the prestige of 
Rome. Dietrich seems to have partaken of it, like 
the rest. Else why did he not set himself up as 
Caesar of Rome ? Why did he always consider 
himself as son-in-arms, and quasi-vassal, of the 
Caesar of Constantinople ? He had been in youth 
overawed by the cunning civilization which he had 
seen in the great city. He felt, with a noble 
modesty, that he could not emulate it. He must 
copy it afar off. He must take to his counsels 
men like Cassiodorus, Symmachus, Boethius, born 
and bred in it ; trained from childhood in the 
craft by which, as a patent fact, the Kaisers of 
Rome had been for centuries, even in their decay 
and degradation, the rulers of the nations. Yet 
beneath that there must have been a perpetual 
under-current of contempt for it and for Rome 
the ' colluvies gentium' the sink of the nations, 
with its conceit, its pomposity, its beggary, its 
profligacy, its superstition, its pretence of pre 
serving the Roman law and rights, while practi 
cally it cared for no law nor right at all. Die 
trich had had to write letter upon letter, to 
prevent the green and blue factions cutting each 
other's throats at the public spectacles; letters 
to the tribunus voluptatum, who had to look after 
the pantomimes and loose women, telling him to 
keep the poor wretches in some decent order, 
and to set them and the city an example of a 
better life, by being a chaste and respectable man 


himself. Letter upon letter of Cassiodorus', written 
in Dietrich's name, disclose a state of things in 
Rome on which a Goth could look only with 
disgust and contempt. 

And what if he discovered (or thought that 
he discovered) that these prating coxcombs who 
were actually living on government bounty, and 
had their daily bread, daily bath, daily oil, daily 
pork, daily wine, found for them at government 
expense, while they lounged from the theatre to 
the church, and the church to the theatre were 
plotting with Justin the scoundrel and upstart 
Emperor at Constantinople, to restore forsooth 
the liberties of Rome ? And that that was their 
answer to his three and thirty years of good 
government, respect, indulgence, which had raised 
them up again out of all the miseries of domestic 
anarchy and foreign invasion ? 

And what if he discovered (or thought that 
he discovered) that the Catholic Clergy, with 
Pope John at their head, were in the very same 
plot for bringing in the Emperor of Constanti 
nople, on the grounds of religion ; because he 
was persecuting the Arian Goths at Constanti 
nople, and therefore would help them to persecute 
them in Italy ? And that that was their answer 
to his three and thirty years of unexampled 
religious liberty ? Would not those two facts 
(even the belief that they were facts) have been 
enough to drive many a wise man mad ? 


How far they were facts, we never shall ex 
actly know. Almost all our information comes 
from Catholic historians and he would be a rash 
man who would pin his faith on any statement 
of theirs concerning the actions of a heretic. But 
I think, even with no other help than theirs, we 
may see why Dietrich would have looked with 
horror on any intimacy between the Church of 
Rome and the Court of Constantinople. 

We must remember first what the Greek Em 
pire was then, and who was the new Emperor. 
Anastasius the poor old Emperor, dying at eighty 
with his heart broken by monks and priests, had 
an ugly dream ; and told it to Amantius the 
eunuch and lord chamberlain. Whereon Amantius 
said that he had had a dream too ; how a great 
hog flew at him as he was in waiting in the very 
presence, and threw him down and eat him fairly 
up. Which came true though not in the way 
Amantius expected. On the death of Anastasius 
he determined to set up as Emperor a creature 
of his own. For this purpose he must buy the 
guards ; to which noble end he put a large sum 
of treasure into the hands of Justin, senator, and 
cominander-in-chief of the said guards, who takes 
the money, and spends it on his own account ; so 
that the miserable eunuch finds, not his man, but 
Justin himself, Emperor, and his hard-earned 
money spent against him. The mere rise of this 
unscrupulous swindler and his still more unscrupul- 


ous nephew, Justinian, would have been enough 
to rouse Dietrich's suspicion, if not fear. 

Deep and unspeakable must have been the 
royal Amal's contempt for the man. For he 
must have known him well at Constantinople in 
his youth ; known how he was a Goth or other 
Teuton after all, though he was called a Dar- 
danian ; how his real name was Uprauda (up 
right), the son of Stock which Uprauda he had 
latinized into Justinus. The Arnal knew well 
how he had entered the Emperor's guard ; how 
he had intrigued and fought his way up (for the 
man did not lack courage and conduct) to his 
general's commission ; and now, by a crowning 
act of roguery, to the Empire. He had known 
too, most probably, the man's vulgar peasant wife, 
who, in her efforts to. ape royalty, was making 
herself the laughing-stock of the people, and who 
was urging on her already willing husband to 
persecute. And this man he saw ready to con 
vulse his own Empire by beginning a violent 
persecution against the Arians. He was danger 
ous enough as a villain, doubly dangerous as a 
bigot also. 

We must remember next what the Greek 
Church was then ; a chaos of intrigue, villainy, 
slander, and wild fury, tearing to pieces itself 
and the whole Empire by religious feuds, in 
which the doctrine in question becomes invisible 
amid the passions and crimes of the disputants, 


while the Lords of the Church were hordes of wild 
monks, who swarm out of their dens to head 
the lowest mobs, or fight pitched battles with 
each other. The ecclesiastical history of the fifth 
century in the Eastern Empire is one, which not 
even the genius of a Gibbon or a Milman can 
make interesting, or even intelligible. 

Recollect that Dietrich had seen much of 
this with his own eyes ; had seen actually, as I 
told you, the rebellion of Basiliscus and the 
Eutychian Bishops headed by the mad Daniel the 
Stylite against his foster father the Emperor 
Zeno ; had seen that Emperor (as Dean Milman 
forcibly puts it) 'flying before a naked hermit, 
who had lost the use of his legs by standing 
sixteen years upon a column/ Recollect that 
Dietrich and his Goths had helped to restore 
that Emperor to his throne ; and then under 
stand in what a school he had learnt his great 
ideas of religious toleration : how deep must have 
been the determination to have no such doings 
in his kingdom ; how deep, too, the dread of any 
similar outbreak at Rome. 

Recollect, also, that now in his old age he had 
just witnessed the same iniquities again rending 
the Eastern Empire ; the old Emperor Anastasius 
hunted to death by armies of mad monks about 
the Monophysite Heresy ; the cities, even the 
holiest places of the East, stained with Christian 
blood ; everywhere mob-law, murder, treachery, 


assassination even in the house of God ; and now 
the new Emperor Justin was throwing himself 
into the party of the Orthodox with all the blind 
rage of an ignorant peasant ; persecuting, expelling, 
shutting up the Arian Churches of the Goths, 
refusing to hear Dietrich's noble appeals ; and 
evidently organizing a great movement against 
those peaceable Arians, against whom, during the 
life-time of Dietrich, their bitterest enemies do 
not allege a single case of persecution. 

Remember, too, that Dietrich had had ex 
perience of similar outbreaks of fanaticism at 
Rome ; that the ordination of two rival Popes 
had once made the streets run with blood ; that 
he had seen priests murdered, monasteries fired, 
nuns insulted, and had had to interfere with the 
strong arm of the law, and himself decide in 
favour of the Pope who had the most votes, 
and was first chosen ; and that in the quarrels, 
intrigues, and slanders, which followed that elec 
tion, he had had too good proof that the eccle 
siastics and the mob of Rome if he but let them 
could behave as ill as that of Constantinople; 
and moreover, that this new Pope John, who 
seems to have been a hot-headed fanatic, had 
begun his rule by whipping and banishing Mani- 
chees by whose permission, does not appear. 

Recollect too, that for some reason or other, 
Dietrich, when he had interfered in Eastern 
matters, had been always on the side of the 


Orthodox and the Council of Chalcedon. He 
had fought for the Orthodox against Basiliscus. 
He had backed the Orthodox and Vitalianus 
their champion, against the late Emperor Ana- 
stasius; and now as soon as the Orthodox got 
into power under Justin, this was the reward of 
his impartiality. If he did not distrust and 
despise the Church and Emperor of the East, he 
must have been not a hero, but a saint. 

Eecollect, too, that in those very days, 
Catholic bigotry had broken out in a general 
plunder of the Jews. At Kome, at Milan, and 
at Genoa their houses had been sacked, and their 
synagogues burnt ; and Dietrich, having com 
pelled the Catholics to rebuild them at their 
own expense, had earned the hatred of a large 
portion of his subjects. And now Pope John 
was doing all he could to thwart him. Dietrich 
bade him go to Constantinople, and plead with 
Justin for the persecuted Arians. He refused. 
Dietrich shipt him off, nolentem volentem. But 
when he got to Constantinople he threw his 
whole weight into the Emperor's scale. He was 
received by Justin as if he was St Peter him 
self, the Emperor coming out to meet him with 
processions and wax-lights, imploring his blessing ; 
he did exactly the opposite to what Dietrich bade 
him do ; and published on his return a furious 
epistle to the bishops of Italy, calling upon them 
to oppress and extirpate the Arian perfidy, so 


that no root of it is left : to consecrate the Arian 
churches wheresoever he found them, pleading the 
advice of the most pious and Christian Emperor 
Justin, talking of Dietrich as tainted inwardly 
and w r rapt up outwardly with the pest of heresy. 
On which Cochlaeus (who religiously believes 
that Dietrich was damned for his Arianism, 
and that all his virtues went for nothing because 
he had not charity, which exists, he says, alone 
within the pale of the Church), cannot help the 
naive comment, that if the Pontiff did really 
write that letter, he cannot wonder at Dietrich's 
being a little angry. Kings now, it is true, 
can afford to smile at such outbursts ; they 
could not afford to do so in Dietrich's days. 
Such words meant murder, pillage, civil war, 
dethronement, general anarchy; and so Dietrich 
threw Pope John into prison. He had been in 
bad health before he sailed to Constantinople, and 
in a few months he died, and was worshipped 
as a saint. 

As for the political conspiracy, we shall never 
know the truth of it. The ' Anonymus Valesii/ 
meanwhile says, that when Cyprian accused Al- 
binus, Boethius answered, ' It is false : but if Albi- 
nus has done it ; so have I, and the whole senate, 
with one consent. It is false, my Lord King ! ' 
Whatever such words may prove, they prove at 
least this, that Boethius, as he says himself, was 
the victim of his own chivalry. To save Albinus, 


and the senate, he thrust himself into the fore 
front of the battle, and fell at least like a brave 
man. Whether Albinus, Boethius, and Symma- 
chus did plot to bring in Justin; whether the 
senate did send a letter to him, I cannot tell. 
Boethius, in his De Consolatione, denies it all; and 
Boethius was a good man. He says that the 
letters in which he hoped for the liberty of Rome 
were forged; how could he hope for the impos 
sible : but he adds, ' would that any liberty could 
have been hoped for! I would have answered 
the king as Cassius did, when falsely accused of 
conspiring by Caligula : ( If I had known of it, 
you should not." One knows not whether Die 
trich ever saw those words: but they prove at 
least that all his confidence, justice, kindness, to 
the patrician philosopher, had not won him from 
the pardonable conceit about the Romani nomi- 
nis umbram. 

Boethius' story is most probably true. One 
cannot think that that man would die with a lie 
in his mouth. One cannot pass by, as the utter 
ances of a deliberate hypocrisy, those touching 
appeals to his guiding mistress, that heavenly 
wisdom who has led him so long upon the 
paths of truth and virtue, and who seems to 
him, in his miserable cell, to have betrayed him 
in his hour of need. Heaven forbid. Better 
to believe that Dietrich committed once in his 
life, a fearful crime, than that good Boethius' 



famous book is such another as the Eikon Basi- 

Boethius, again, says that the Gothic courtiers 
hated him, and suborned branded scoundrels to 
swear away his life and that of the senate, because 
he had opposed e the hounds of the palace/ Ami- 
gast, Trigulla, and other greedy barbarians. There 
was, of course, a Gothic party and a Roman party 
about the court ; and each hated the other bitter 
ly. Dietrich had favoured the Romans. But the 
Goths could not have seen such men as Symma- 
chus and Boethius the confidants and counsellors 
of the Amal, without longing for their downfall ; 
and if, as Boethius and the Catholic historians say, 
the whole tragedy arose out of a Gothic plot to 
destroy the Roman party, such things have hap 
pened but too often in the world's history. The 
only facts which make against the story are, that 
Cyprianus the accuser was a Roman, and that 
Cassiodorus, who must have belonged to the 
Roman party, not only is never mentioned during 
the whole tragedy, but was high in power under 
Theodatus and Athalaric afterwards. 

Add to this, that there were vague but wide 
spread reports that the Goths were in danger; 
that Dietrich at least could not be ignorant of 
the ambition and the talents of that terrible Justi 
nian, Justin's nephew, who was soon to alter, for 
a generation, the fortunes of the whole Empire, 
and to sweep the Goths from Italy; that men's 


minds must have been perplexed with fear of 
change, when they recollected that Dietrich was 
seventy years old, without a son to succeed him, 
and that a woman and a child would soon rule 
that great people in a crisis, which they could not 
but foresee. We know that the ruin came; is 
it unreasonable to suppose that the Goths foresaw 
it, and made a desperate, it may be a treacherous, 
effort to crush once and for all, the proud and 
not less treacherous senators of Rome ? 

So, maddened with the fancied discovery that 
the man whom he had honoured, trusted, loved, was 
conspiring against him, Dietrich sent Boethius to 
prison. He seems, however, not to have been 
eager for his death; for Boethius remained there 
long enough to write his noble book. 

However, whether fresh proofs of his supposed 
guilt were discovered or not, the day came when 
he must die. A cord was twisted round his head 
(probably to extort confession), till his eyes burst 
from their sockets, and then he was put out of 
his misery by a club; and so ended the last Ro 
man philosopher. Syrnmachus, his father-in-law, 
was beheaded; and Pope John, as we have heard, 
was thrown into prison on his return, and died 
after a few months. These are the tragedies 
which have stained for ever the name of "Theo- 
doric the Great." 

Pope John seems to have fairly earned his 
imprisonment. For the two others, we can only, 



I fear, join in the sacred pity in which their 
memories have been embalmed to all succeeding 
generations. But we must recollect, that after 
all, we know but one side of the question. The 
Romans could write ; the Goths could not : they 
may have been able to make out a fair case for 
themselves; they may have believed truly in the 
guilt of Boethius; and if they did, nothing less 
could have happened, by such rules of public law 
and justice as were then in vogue, than did 

Be that as it may, the deed was done ; and the 
punishment, if deserved, came soon enough. Sit 
ting at dinner (so the story runs), the head of 
a fish took in Dietrich's fancy the shape of Sym- 
machus' head, the upper teeth biting the lip, the 
great eyes staring at him. He sprang up in hor 
ror ; took to his bed ; and there, complaining of 
a mortal chill, wrapping himself up in heaps of 
blankets, and bewailing to his physician the death 
of his two victims, he died sadly in a few days. 
And a certain holy hermit, name not given, nor 
date of the vision, saw the ghosts of Boethius and 
Symmachus lead the Amal's soul up the cone of 
Stromboli, and hurl him in, as the English sailors 
saw old Boots, the Wapping usurer, hurled into the 
same place, for offences far more capable of proof. 

So runs the story of Dietrich's death. It is 
perfectly natural, and very likely true. His con 
temporaries, who all believed it, saw in it proof 


of his enormous guilt, and the manifest judgment 
of God. We shall rather see in it a proof of the 
earnest, child-like, honest nature of the man, 
startled into boundless horror and self-abasement, 
by the sudden revelation of his crime. Truly 
bad men die easier deaths than that; and go down 
to the grave, for the most part, blind and self- 
contented, and, as they think, unpunished; and 
perhaps forgiven. 

After Dietrich came the deluge. The royal 
head was gone. The royal heart remained in 
Amalasuentha 'the heavenly beauty/ a daughter 
worthy of her father. 

One of her first acts was to restore to the 
widows and children of the two victims the estates 
which Dietrich had confiscated. That may, or 
may not, prove that she thought the men inno 
cent. She may have only felt it royal not to 
visit the sins of the fathers on the children ; and 
those fathers, too, her own friends and preceptors. 
Beautiful, learned, and wise, she too was, like her 
father, before her age. She, the pupil of Boe- 
thius, would needs bring up her son Athalaric in 
Roman learning, and favour the Romans in all 
ways ; never putting to death or even fining any 
of them, and keeping down the rough Goths, 
who were ready enough, now Dietrich's hand was 
off them, to ill-use the conquered Italians. The 
Goths soon grew to dislike her, and her Roman 
tendencies, her Roman education of the lad. One 


day she boxed his ears for some fault. He ran 
crying out into the Heldensaal, and complained 
to the heroes. They sent a deputation to Amala 
suentha, insolent enough. * The boy should not 
be made a scholar of.' * She meant to kill the boy 
and marry again. Had not old Dietrich forbidden 
free Goths to go to schoolmasters, and said, that 
the boy who was taught to tremble at a cane, 
would never face a lance ? ' So they took the lad 
away from the women, and made a ruffian of him. 
What with drink, women, idleness, and the com 
pany of wild young fellows like himself, he was 
early ruined, body and soul. Poor Amalasuentha, 
not knowing whither to turn, took the desperate 
resolution of offering Italy to the Emperor Justi 
nian. She did not know that her cousin Theodatus 
had been beforehand with her a bad old man, 
greedy and unjust, whose rapacity she had had to 
control again and again, and who hated her in 
return. Both send messages to Justinian. The 
wily Emperor gave no direct answer : but sent 
his ambassador to watch the course of events. 
The young prince died of debauchery, and the 
Goths whispered that his mother had poisoned 
him. Meanwhile Theodatus went on from bad 
to worse ; accusations flowed in to Amalasuentha 
of his lawless rapacity : but he was too strong for 
her ; and she, losing her head more and more, 
made the desperate resolve of marrying him, as 
the only way to keep him quiet. He was the last 


male heir of the royal Amalungs. The marriage 
would set him right in the eyes of the Goths, while 
it would free her from the suspicion of having 
murdered her son, in order to reign alone. Theo- 
datus, meanwhile was to have the name of royalty ; 
but she was to keep the power and the money 
a foolish, confused plan, which could have but 
one ending. Theodatus married her of course, and 
then cast her into prison, seized all her treasures, 
and threw himself into the arms of that party 
among the Goths, who hated Amalasuentha for 
having punished their oppressions. The end was 
swiffc and sad. By the time that Justinian's am 
bassador landed, Amalasuentha was strangled in 
her bath ; and all that Peter the ambassador had 
to do was, to catch at the cause of quarrel, and 
declare ' inexpiable war' on the part of Justinian, 
as the avenger of the Queen. 

And then began that dreadful East Goth war, 
which you may read for yourselves in the pages of 
an eye-witness, Procopius ; a war which destroy 
ed utterly the civilization of Dietrich's long and 
prosperous reign, left Italy a desert, and extermi 
nated the Roman people. 

That was the last woe : but of it I must tell 
you in my next Lecture. 



OF this truly dreadful Gothic war I can give 
you but a hasty sketch; of some of the most 
important figures in it, not even a sketch. I can 
not conceive to myself, and therefore cannot draw 
for you, the famous Belisarius. Was he really 
the strange compound of strength and weakness 
which Procopius, and after him Gibbon, represent 
him ? a caricature, for good and evil, of our own 
famous Marlborough ? You must read and judge 
for yourselves. I cannot, at least as yet, offer 
you any solution of the enigma. 

Still less can I conceive to myself Narses, 
living till his grey hairs in the effeminate intrigues 
of the harem, and then springing forth a general ; 
the Warrior Eunuch; the misanthrope avenging 
his great wrong upon all mankind in bloody battle 
fields ; dark of counsel, and terrible of execution ; 
him to whom in after years the Empress Sophia 
sent word that he was more fit to spin among 


maids than to command armies, and he answered, 
that he would spin her such a thread as she could 
not unravel ; and kept his word, (as legends say) 
by inviting the Lombards into Italy. 

Least of all can I sketch Justinian the Great, 
the half-Teuton peasant, whom his uncle Jus 
tin sent for out of the Dardanian hills, to make 
him a demigod upon earth. Men whispered in 
after years that he was born of a demon, a demon 
himself, passing whole days without food, wander 
ing up and down his palace corridors all night, 
resolving dark things, and labouring all day with 
Herculean force to carry them out. No wonder 
he was thought to be a demon, wedded to a 
demon-wife. The man is unfathomable, inexpli 
cable ; marrying deliberately the wickedest of all 
women, plainly not for mere beauty's sake, but 
possibly because he saw in her a congenial intel 
lect ; faithful and loving to her and she to him, 
amid all the crimes of their following years; 
pious with exceeding devotion and orthodoxy, and 
yet with a piety utterly divorced from, unconscious 
of, the commonest morality ; discerning and using 
the greatest men, Belisarius and Narses for ex 
ample, and throwing them away again, surely not 
in weak caprice, whenever they served him too 
well ; conquering Persians, Vandals, Goths ; all 
but re- conquering, in fact, the carcase Roman 
Empire ; and then trying (with a deep discern 
ment of the value of Roman law) to put a 


galvanic life into the carcase by codifying that 

In whatever work I find this man, during his 
long life, he is to me inexplicable. Louis XI. of 
France is the man most like Justinian whom I 
know, but he, too, is a man not to be fathomed 
by me. All the facts about Justinian you will 
find in Gibbon. I have no theory by which 
to arrange and explain them, and therefore can 
tell you no more than Gibbon does. 

So to this Gothic war; which, you must re 
member, became possible for Justinian by Beli- 
sarius' having just destroyed the Vandals out of 
Africa. It began by Belisarius invading the south 
of Italy. Witigis was elected war-king of the 
Goths, 'the man of witty counsels/ who did 
not fulfil his name ; while Theodatus (Theod-aht 
'esteemed by the people' as his name meant) had 
fallen into utter disesteem, after some last villany 
about money ; had been struck down in the road 
by the man he had injured ; and there had his 
throat cut, 'resupinus instar victimae jugulatus.' 

He had consulted a Jew diviner just before, 
who had given him a warning. Thirty pigs, sig 
nifying the unclean Gentiles, the Jew shut up in 
three sties; naming ten Goths, ten Romans, and ten 
Imperialists of Belisarius 7 army, and left them to 
starve. At the end they found dead all the Goths 
but two, hardly any of the Imperialists, and half 
the Romans : but the five Roman pigs who were 


left had lost their bristles bare to the skin, as the 
event proved. 

After that Theodatus had no heart to fight, 
and ended his dog's life by a dog's death, as we 
have seen. 

Note also this, that there was a general feel 
ing of coming ruin ; that there were quaint signs 
and omens. "We have heard of the pigs which 
warned the Goths. Here is another. There was 
a Mosaic picture of Theodoric at Naples ; it had 
been crumbling to pieces at intervals, and every 
fresh downfall had marked the death of an Amal. 
Now the last remains went down, to the very feet, 
and the Romans believed that it foretold the end of 
the Amal dynasty. There was a Sibylline oracle 
too ; 

Quintili mense Roina nihil Geticum metuet. 

Here, too, we find the last trace of heathenism, 
of that political mythology which had so inextri 
cably interwoven itself with the life and history of 
the city. The shrine of Janus was still standing, 
all of bronze, only just large enough, Procopius 
says, to contain the bronze image of Janus 
Bifrons. The gates, during Christian centuries, 
had never been opened, even in war time. Now 
people went by night, and tried to force them 
open : but hardly succeeded. 

Belisarius garrisoned Rome, and the Goths 
attacked it, but in vain. You must read the 
story of that famous siege in the really brilliant 


pages of old Procopius, the last good historian 
of the old world. 

Moreover, and this is most important, Belisa- 
rius raised the native population against the Goths. 
As he had done in Africa, when in one short cam 
paign he utterly destroyed the now effeminate 
aristocracy of the Vandals, so he did in Italy. 
By real justice and kindness; by proclaiming him 
self the deliverer of the conquered from the yoke 
of foreign tyrants, he isolated the slave-holding 
aristocracy of the Goths from the mass of the in 
habitants of Italy. 

Belisarius and the Goths met, and the Goths 
conquered. But to take Rome was beyond their 
power; and after that a long miserable war 
struggled and wrangled up and down over the 
wretched land ; city after city was taken and de 
stroyed, now by Roman, now by Goth. The lands 
lay waste, the people disappeared in tens of thou 
sands. All great Dietrich's work of thirty years 
was trampled into mud. 

There were horrible sieges and destructions by 
both parties ; sack of Milan by Goths, sack of 
Rimini and the country round by Romans ; hor 
rors of famine at Auximum; two women who 
kept an inn, killing and eating seventeen men, 
till the eighteenth discovered the trap and killed 
them. Everywhere, as I say, good Dietrich's 
work of thirty years trampled into gory mud. 

Then Theudebert and his false Franks came 


down to see what they could get ; all (save a few 
knights round the king) on foot, without bow or 
lance; but armed with sword, shield, and heavy 
short-handled double-edged francisc, or battle-axe. 
At the bridge over the Ticinus they (nominal 
Catholics) sacrificed Gothic women and children 
with horrid rites, fought alike Goths and Romans, 
lost a third of their army by dysentery, and went 
home again. 

At last, after more horrors, Vitigis and his 
Goths were driven into Ravenna. Justinian treat 
ed for peace ; and then followed a strange peripe 
teia, which we have, happily, from an eye-witness, 
Procopius himself. The Roman generals outside 
confessed their chance of success hopeless. The 
Goths inside, tired of the slow Vitigi's, send out to 
the great Belisarius, Will he be their king? King 
over them there in Italy ? He promised, mean 
ing to break his promise ; and to the astonishment 
and delight of the Romans, the simple and honest 
barbarians opened the gates of Ravenna, and let in 
him and his Romans, to find themselves betrayed 
and enslaved. 'When I saw our troops march 
in,' says Procopius, ' I felt it was God's doing, so 
to turn their minds. The Goths,' he says, were 
far superior in numbers and in strength ; and their 
women, who had fancied these Romans to be 
mighty men of valour, spit in the faces of their 
huge husbands, and pointing to the little Romans, 
reproached them with having surrendered to such 


things as that. But the folly was committed. 
Belisarius carried them away captive to Constan 
tinople, and so ended the first act of the Gothic 

In the moment of victory the envy of the 
Byzantine court undid all that it had done. 
Belisarius returned with his captives to Rome, not 
for a triumph, but for a disgrace; and Italy was 
left open to the Goths, if they had men and 
heart to rise once more. 

And they did rise. Among the remnant of 
the race was left a hero, Totila by name ; a Teu 
ton of the ancient stamp. Totilas, 'free from 
death' 'the deathless one/ they say his name 
means. Under him the nation rose once more 
as out of the ground. 

A Teuton of the ancient stamp he was, just 
and merciful exceedingly. Take but two instances 
of him, and know the man by them. He retook 
Naples. The Romans within were starving. He 
fed them; but lest they should die of the sudden 
repletion, he kept them in by guards at each gate, 
and fed them up more and more each day, till ifc 
was safe to let them out, to find food for them 
selves in the country. A Roman came to com 
plain that a Goth had violated his daughter. 
He shall die, said Totila. He shall not die, said 
the Goths. He is a valiant hero. They came 
clamouring to the king. He answered them quiet 
ly and firmly. They may choose to-day, whether 


to let this man go unpunished, or to save the 
Gothic nation and win the victory. Do they not 
recollect how at the beginning of the war, they 
had brave soldiers, famous generals, countless 
treasures, horses, weapons, and all the forts of 
Italy ? And yet under Theodatus, a man who 
loved gold better than justice, they had so angered 
God by their unrighteous lives, that what had 
happened they knew but too well. Now God had 
seemed to have avenged himself on them enough. 
He had begun a new course with them. They 
must begin a new course with him ; and justice 
was the only path. As for the man's being a 
valiant hero : let them know that the unjust and 
the ravisher were never brave in fight ; but that 
according to a man's life, such was his luck in 

His noble words came all but true. The feeble 
generals who were filling Belisarius's place were 
beaten one by one, and almost all Italy was re 
conquered. Belisarius had to be sent back again 
to Italy : but the envy, whether of Justinian him 
self, or of the two wicked women who ruled his 
court, allowed him so small a force that he could 
do nothing. 

Totila and the Goths came down once more to 
Home. Belisarius in agony sent for reinforce 
ments, and got them ; but too late. He could 
not relieve Home. The Goths had massed them 
selves round the city, and Belisarius, having got 


to Ostia (Portus) at the Tiber's mouth, could get 
no further. This was the last woe ; the actual 
death-agony of ancient Rome. The famine grew 
and grew. The wretched Romans cried to Bessas 
and his garrison, either to feed them or to kill 
them out of their misery. They would do neither. 
They could hardly at last feed themselves. The 
Romans ate nettles off the ruins, and worse things 
still. There was not a dog or a rat left. They 
even killed themselves. One father of five chil 
dren could bear no longer their cries for food. 
He wrapped his head in his mantle, and sprang 
into the Tiber, while the children looked on. The 
survivors wandered about like spectres, brown 
with hunger, and dropped dead with half-chewed 
nettles between their lips. To this, says Proco- 
pius, had fortune brought the Roman senate and 
people. Nay, not fortune, but wickedness. They 
had wished to play at being free, while they 
themselves were the slaves of sin. 

And still Belisarius was coming, and still he 
did not come. He was forcing his way up the 
Tiber ; he had broken Totila's chain, burnt a tower 
full of Goths, and the city was on the point of 
being relieved, when one Isaac made a fool of 
himself, and was taken by the Goths. Belisarius 
fancied that Portus, his base of operations, with 
all his supplies, and Antonia, the worthless wife 
on whom he doted, were gone. He lost his head, 
was beaten terribly, fell back on Ostia, and then 


the end came. Isaurians from within helped in 
Goths by night. The Asinarian gate was opened, 
and Rome was in the hands of the Goths. 

And what was left ? "What of all the pomp 
and glory, the spoils of the world, the millions of 
inhabitants ? 

Five or six senators, who had taken refuge in 
St Peter's, and some five hundred of the plebs; 
Pope Pelagius crouching at Totila's feet, and cry 
ing for mercy ; and Rusticiana, daughter of Sym- 
machus, Boethius' widow, with other noble women, 
in slaves' rags, knocking without shame at door 
after door to beg a bit of bread. And that was 
what was left of Rome. 

Gentlemen, I make no comment. I know no 
more awful page in the history of Europe. 
Through such facts as these God speaks. Let 
man be silent ; and look on in fear and trembling, 
knowing that it was written of old time The 
wages of sin are death. 

The Goths wanted to kill Rusticiana. She 
had sent money to the Roman generals ; she 
had thrown down Dietrich's statues, in revenge for 
the death of her father and her husband. Totila 
would not let them touch her. Neither maid, 
wife, nor widow, says Procopius, was the worse 
for any Goth. 

Next day he called the heroes together. He 
is going to tell them the old tale, he says How 
in Vitigis' time at Ravenna, 7,000 Greeks had con- 



quered and robbed of kingdom and liberty 200,000 
rich and well-armed Goths. And now that they 
were raw levies, few, naked, wretched, they had 
conquered more than 20,000 of the enemy. And 
why ? Because of old they had looked to every 
thing rather than to justice ; they had sinned against 
each other and the Romans. Therefore they must 
choose, and be just men henceforth, and have God 
with them, or unjust, and have God against 

Then he sends for the wretched remnant of 
the senators and tells them the plain truth : 
How the great Dietrich and his successors had 
heaped them with honour and wealth ; and how 
they had returned his benefits by bringing in the 
Greeks. And what had they gained by changing 
Dietrich for Justinian ? Logothetes, who forced 
them by blows to pay up the money which they had 
already paid to their Gothic rulers ; and revenue 
exacted alike in war and in peace. Slaves they 
deserve to be; and slaves they shall be hence 

Then he sends to Justinian. He shall with 
draw his army from Italy, and make peace with 
him. He will be his ally and his son in arms, as 
Dietrich had been to the Emperors before him, or 
if not, he will kill the senate, destroy Home, and 
march into Illyricum. 

Justinian leaves it to Belisarius. 

Then Totila begins to destroy Rome. He bat- 


ters down the walls, lie is ready to bum the town. 
He will turn the evil place into a sheep-pasture. 
Belisarius flatters and cajoles him from his pur 
pose, and he marches away with all his captives, 
leaving not a living soul in Rome. 

But Totila shews himself a general unable 
to cope with that great tactician. He divides 
his forces, and allows Belisarius to start out of 
Ostia and fortify himself in Rome. The Goths are 
furious at his rashness : but it is too late, and the 
war begins again, up and down the wretched land, 
till Belisarius is recalled by some fresh court 
intrigue of his wicked wife, and another and even 
more terrible enemy appears on the field, Narses 
the eunuch, avenging his wrong upon his fellow- 
men by cunning and courage almost preternatural. 
He comes upon them with a mighty host : but 
not of Romans alone. He has gathered the Teu 
ton tribes ; Herules, the descendants probably of 
Odoacer's confederates; Gepids, who have a long 
blood-feud against the Goths ; and most terrible 
of all, Alboin with his five thousand more Bur- 
gundians, of whom you will hear enough hereafter. 
We read even of multitudes of Huns, and even 
of Persian deserters from the Chosroo. But 
Narses' policy is the old Roman one Teuton 
must destroy Teuton. And it succeeds. 

In spite of some trouble with the Franks, 
who are holding Venetia, he marches down vic 
torious through the wasted land, and Totila 



marches to meet him in the Apennines. The 
hero makes his last speech. He says, ' There will 
be no need to talk henceforth. This day will end 
the war. They are not to fear these hired Huns, 
Herules, Lombards, fighting for money. Let 
them hold together like desperate men/ So they 
fight it out. The Goths depending entirely on 
the lance, the Romans on a due use of every 
kind of weapon. The tremendous charge of the 
Gothic knights is stopped by showers of Hun and 
Herule arrows, and they roll back again and again 
in disorder on the foot: but in spite of the far 
superior numbers of the Romans, it is not till 
nightfall that Narses orders a general advance of 
his line. The Goths try one last charge; but 
appalled by the numbers of the enemy, break up, 
and, falling back on the foot, throw them into con 
fusion, and all is lost. 

The foot are cut down flying. The knights 
ride for their lives. Totila and five horsemen are 
caught up by Asbad the Gepid chief. Asbad 
puts his lance in rest, not knowing who was be 
fore him. 'Dog/ cries Totila's page, 'wilt thou 
strike thy lord?' But it is too late. Asbad's 
lance goes through his back, and he drops on 
his horse's neck. Scipwar (Ship-ward) the Goth 
wounds Asbad, and falls wounded himself. The 
rest carry off Totila. He dies that night, after 
reigning eleven stormy years. 

The Goths flee across the Po. There is one 


more struggle for life, and one more hero left- 
Teia by name, 'the slow one/ slow, but strong. 
He shall be king now. They lift him on the 
shield, and gather round him desperate, but de 
termined to die hard. He finds the treasure of 
Totila, hid in Pisa. He sends to Theudebald and 
his Franks. Will they help him against the 
Roman, and they shall have the treasure ; the 
last remnant of the Nibelungen hoard. No. 
The Luegenfelden will not come. They will stand 
by and see the butchery, on the chance of get 
ting all Italy for themselves. Narses storms 
Rome or rather a little part of it round Ha 
drian's Mole, which the Goths had fortified ; and 
the Goths escape down into Campania, mad with 


That victory of Narses, says Procopius, brought 
only a more dreadful destruction on the Roman 
senate and people. The Goths, as they go down, 
murder every Roman they meet. The day of 
grace which Totila had given them is over. The 
Teutons in Narses' army do much the same. 
What matter to Burgunds and Herules who was 
who, provided they had any thing to be plundered 
of? Totila has allowed many Roman senators to 
live in Campania. They hear that Narses has 
taken Rome, they begin to flock to the ghastly 
ruin, Perhaps there will be once again a phan 
tom senate, phantom consuls, under the Romani 
nominis umbram. The Goths catch them, and kill 


them to a man. And there is an end of the Sena- 
tus Populusque Romanus. 

The end is near now. And yet these terrible 
Goths cannot be killed out of the way. On the 
slopes of Vesuvius, by Nuceria, they fortify a 
camp ; and as long as they are masters of the 
neighbouring sea, for two months they keep 
Narses at bay. At last he brings up an innume 
rable fleet, cuts off their supplies ; and then the 
end comes. The Goths will die like desperate 
men on foot. They burst out of camp, turn their 
horses loose, after the fashion of German knights 
One hears of the fashion again and again in 
the middle age, and rush upon the enemy in 
deep solid column. The Romans have hardly time 
to form some sort of line ; and then not the real 
Romans, I presume, but the Burgunds and Gepids, 
turn their horses loose like the Goths. There is 
no need for tactics ; the fight is hand to hand ; 
every man, says Procopius, rushing at the man 
nearest him. 

For a third of the day Teia fights in front, 
sheltered by his long pavisse, stabbing with a 
mighty lance at the mob which makes at him, as 
dogs at a boar at bay. Procopius is awed by the 
man. Most probably he saw him with his own 
eyes. Second in valour, he says, to none of the 

Again and again his shield is full of darts. 
Without moving a foot, without turning an inch 


right or left, says Procopius, he catches another 
from his shield-bearer, and fights on. At last he 
has twelve lances in his shield, and cannot move 
it : coolly he calls for a fresh one, as if he were 
fixed to the soil, thrusts back the enemy with 
his left hand, and stabs at them with his right. 
But his time is come. As he shifts his shield for 
a moment his chest is exposed, and a javelin is 
through him. And so ends the last hero of the 
East Goths. They put his head upon a pole, and 
carry it round the lines to frighten the Goths. 
The Goths are long past frightening. 

All day long, and all the next day, did the Ger 
mans fight on, Burgund and Gepid against Goth, 
neither giving nor taking quarter, each man dying 
where he stood, till human strength could bear up 
no longer, while Narses sat by, like an ugly Troll 
as he was, smiling to see the Teuton slay the 
Teuton, for the sake of their common enemy. 
Then the Goths sent down to Narses. They were 
fighting against God. They would give in, and go 
their ways peaceably, and live with some other 
Teuton nations after their own laws. They had had 
enough of Italy, poor fellows, and of the Nibel- 
ungen hoard. Only Narses, that they might buy 
food on the journey back, must let them have their 
money, which he had taken in various towns of 

Narses agreed. There was no use fighting 
more with desperate men. They should go in 


peace. And he kept liis faith with them. Perhaps 
he dared not break it. He let them go, like a 
wounded lion crawling away from the hunter, up 
through Italy, and over the Po, to vanish. They 
and their name became absorbed in other nations, 
and history knows the East Goths no more. 

So perished, by their own sins, a noble nation ; 
and in perishing, destroyed utterly the Roman 
people. After war and famine followed as usual 
dreadful pestilence, and Italy lay waste for years. 
Henceforth the Italian population was not Roman, 
but a mixture of all races, with a most powerful, 
but an entirely new type of character. Rome was 
no more Senatorial, but Papal. 

And why did these Goths perish, in spite of 
all their valour and patriotism, at the hands of 
mercenaries ? 

They were enervated, no doubt, as the Vandals 
had been in Africa, by the luxurious southern 
climate, \vith its gardens, palaces, and wines. But 
I have indicated a stronger reason already: they 
perished because they were a slave-holding aristo 

"We must not blame them. All men then held 
slaves : but the original sin was their ruin, though 
they knew it not. It helped, doubtless, to de 
bauch them ; to tempt them to the indulgence of 
those fierce and greedy passions, which must, in 
the long run, lower the morality of slaveholders ; 
and which, as Totila told them, had drawn down 


on them the anger of heaven. But more ; though 
they reformed their morals, and that nobly, under 
the stern teaching of affliction,, that could not save 
them. They were ruined by the inherent weak 
ness of all slaveholding states ; the very weakness 
which had ruined, in past years, the Roman Em 
pire. They had no middle class, who could keep 
up their supplies, by exercising for them during 
war the arts of peace. They had no lower class, 
whom they dare entrust with arms, and from 
whom they might recruit their hosts. They could 
not call a whole population into the field, and 
when beaten in that field, carry on, as Britain 
would when invaded, a guerilla warfare from wood 
to wood, and hedge to hedge, as long as a coign 
of vantage-ground was left. They found them 
selves a small army of gentlemen, chivalrous and 
valiant, as slaveholders of our race have always 
been ; but lessening day by day from battle and 
disease, with no means of recruiting their num 
bers ; while below them and apart from them lay 
the great mass of the population, helpless, un 
armed, degraded, ready to side with any or every 
one who would give them bread, or let them earn 
it for themselves (for slaves must eat, even though 
their' masters starve), and careless of, if not even 
hostile to, their masters' interests, the moment 
those masters were gone to the wars. 

In such a case, nothing was before them, save 
certain defeat at last by an enemy who could pour 



in ever fresh troops of mercenaries, and who had 
the command of the seas. 

I may seem to be describing the case of a 
modern, and just as valiant and noble a people. 
I do not mention its name. The parallel, I fear, 
is too complete, not to have already suggested 
itself to you. 



AND now I come to the final settlement of 
Italy and the Lombard race ; and to do that well, 
I must introduce you to-day to an old chronicler 
a very valuable, and as far as we know, faithful 
writer Paul Warnefrid, alias Paul the Deacon. 

I shall not trouble you with much commentary 
on him ; but let him, as much as possible, tell his 
own story. He may not be always quite accurate, 
but you will get no one more accurate. In the 
long run, you will know nothing about the matter, 
save what he tells you ; so be content with what 
you can get. Let him shew you what sort of an 
account of his nation, and the world in general, a 
Lombard gentleman and clergyman could give, at 
the end of the 8th century. 

You recollect the Lombards, of whom Tacitus 
says, 'Longobardos paucitas nobilitat.' Paulus 
"Warnefrid was one of their descendants, and his 
history carries out the exact truth of Tacitus' 


words. He too speaks of them as a very small 
tribe. He could not foresee how much the 
'nobilitat' meant. He knew his folk as a brave 
semi-feudal race, who had conquered the greater 
part of Italy, and tilled and ruled it well ; who 
were now conquered by Charlemagne, and an 
nexed to the great Frank Empire, but without 
losing anything of their distinctive national cha 
racter. He did not foresee that they would 
become the architects, the merchants, the gold 
smiths, the bankers, the scientific agriculturists of 
all Europe. We know it. Whenever in London or 
any other great city, you see a ' Lombard Street/ 
an old street of goldsmiths and bankers or the 
three golden balls of Lombardy over a pawnbro 
ker's shop or in the country a field of rye-grass, 
or a patch of lucerne recollect this wise and noble 
people, and thank the Lombards for what they 
have done for mankind. 

Paulus is a garrulous historian, but a valuable 
one, just because he is garrulous. Though he turned 
monk and deacon in middle life, he has not sunk 
the man in the monk, and become a cosmopolite, 
like most Roman ecclesiastics, who have no love or 
hate for human beings save as they are friends or 
enemies of the pope, or their own abbey. He has 
retained enough of the Lombard gentleman to be 
proud of his family, his country, and the old 
legends of his race, which he tells, half-ashamed, 
but with evident enjoyment. 


He was born at beautiful Friuli, with the 
jagged snow-line of the Alps behind him, and 
before him the sun and the sea, and the plains of 
Po ; he was a courtier as a boy in Desiderius' 
court at Pa via, and then, when Charlemagne 
destroyed the Lombard monarchy, seems to have 
been much with the great king at Aix. He cer 
tainly ended his life as a Benedictine monk, at 
Monte Casino, about 799 ; having written a Life 
of St Gregory ; Homilies long and many ; the 
Appendix to Eutropius (the Historia Miscella, as 
it is usually called) up to Justinian's time ; and 
above all, this history of the Lombards, his fore 
fathers, which I shall take as my text. 

To me, and I believe to the great German 
antiquaries, his history seems a model history of 
a nation. You watch the people and their story 
rise before you out of fable into fact ; out of the 
dreary darkness of the unknown north, into the 
clear light of civilized Roman history. 

The first chapter is 'Of Germany, how it 
nourishes much people, and therefore many nations 
go forth of it.' The reason which he gives for the 
immense population is significant. The further to 
the north, and the colder, the more healthy he 
considers the world to be, and more fit for breeding 
human beings ; whereas the south, being nearer 
to the heat of the sun, always abounds with 
diseases. The fact really is, I presume, that Italy 
(all the south which he knew), and perhaps most of 


the once Roman empire, were during the 6th and 
7th centuries pestilential. Ruined cities, stopt 
watercourses, cultivated land falling back into 
marsh and desert, a soil too often saturated with 
human corpses offered all the elements for pesti 
lence. If the once populous Campagna of Rome 
be now uninhabitable from malaria, what must it 
have been in Paul Warnefrid's time ? 
Be that as it may, this is his theory. ' 
Then he tells us how his people were at first 
called Winils ; and how they came out of Scania 
Insula. Sweden is often, naturally, an island with 
the early chroniclers ; only the south was known 
to them. The north was magical, unknown, *Quen- 
land, the dwelling-place of Yotuns, Elves, Trolls, 
Scratlings, and all other uncanny inhumanities. 
The Winils find that they are growing too many for 
Scanland, and they divide into three parties. Two 
shall stay behind, and the third go out to seek 
their fortunes. Which shall go is to be decided 
by lot. The third on whom the lot falls choose as 
war-kings, two brothers, Ayo and Ibor, and with 
them their mother, Gambara, the Air una- wife, 
prudent and wise exceedingly and they go forth. 
But before Paul can go too, he has a thing 
or two to say, which he must not forget, about 
the wild mysterious north from which his fore 
fathers came. First how, in those very extreme 
parts of Germany, in a cave on the ocean shore, 
lie the seven sleepers. How they got thither from 


Ephesus, I cannot tell, still less how they should 
be at once there on the Baltic shore, and at 
Ephesus as Mohammed himself believed, and 
Edward the Confessor taught and at Marmoutier 
by Tours, and probably elsewhere beside. Be 
that as it may, there they are, the seven martyrs, 
sleeping for ever in their Roman dresses, which 
some wild fellow tried to pull off once, and had 
his arms withered as a punishment. And Paul 
trusts that they will awake some day, and by 
their preaching save the souls of the heathen 
Wends and Finns who haunt those parts. 

The Teutonic knights, however, and not the 
seven sleepers, did that good work. 

Only their dog is not with them, it appears ; 
the sacred dog which watches them till the judg 
ment day, when it is to go up to heaven, with 
Noah's dove, and Balaam's ass ; and Alborah the 
camel, and all the holy beasts. The dog must 
have been left behind at Ephesus. 

Then he must tell us about the Scritofinns of 
the Bothnia gulf; wild Lapps and Finns, who 
have now retreated before the Teutonic race. In 
Paul Warnefrid's eyes they are little wild hopping 
creatures whence they derive their name, he says 
Scritofinns, the hopping, or scrambling Finns. 

Scrattels, Skretles, often figure in the Norse 
tales as hopping dwarfs, half magical 1 . The Norse 

1 With west-countrymen, to 'scrattle' still means to scramble, or 
shuffle about. 


discoverers of America recognized the Skrsellings 
in the Esquimaux, and fled from them in panic 
terror; till that furious virago Freydisa, Thorvard's 
wife, and Eirek the Red's daughter, caught up a 
dead man's sword, and put to flight, single-handed, 
the legion of little imps. 

Others, wiser, or too wise, say that Paul is 
wrong ; that Skrikfins is the right name, so called 
from their 'screeking', screaming, and jabbering, 
which doubtless the little fellows did, loudly 

Be that as it may, they appear to Paul (or 
rather to his informants, Wendish merchants pro 
bably, who came down to Charlemagne's court 
at Aix, to sell their amber and their furs) as 
hopping about, he says, after the rein- deer, 
shooting them with a little clumsy bow, and arrows 
tipt with bone, and dressing themselves in their 
skins. Procopius knew these Scritfins too (but 
he has got (as usual) addled in his geography, and 
puts them in ultima Thule or Shetland), and tells 
us, over and above the reindeer-skin dresses, that 
the women never nursed their children, but went 
out hunting with their husbands, hanging the 
papoose up to a tree, as the Lapps do now, with a 
piece of deer's marrow in its mouth to keep it 
employed ; and moreover, that they sacrificed 
their captives to a war-god, (Mars he calls him) 
in cruel ugly ways. All which we may fully 


Then Paul has to tell us how in the Scritfin 
country there is little or no night in midsummer, 
little or no day in winter ; and how the shadows 
there are exceeding long, and shorten to nothing 
as they reach the equator, where he puts not 
merely Egypt but Jerusalem. And how on 
Christmas days a man's shadow is nine feet long 
in Italy, whereas at Totonis Villain (Thionville), as 
he himself has measured, it is nineteen feet and 
a half. Because, he says, shrewdly enough, the 
further you go from the sun, the nearer the sun 
seems to the horizon. Of all which if you answer 
But this is not history : I shall reply But it is 
better than history. It is the history of history. 
It helps you to see how the world got gradually 
known ; how history got gradually to be written ; 
how each man, in each age, added his little grain 
to the great heap of facts, and gave his - rough 
explanation thereof; and how each man's outlook 
upon this wondrous world grew wider, clearer, 
juster, as the years rolled on. 

And therefore I have no objection at all to 
listen to Paul in his next chapter, concerning 
the two navels of the ocean, one on each side 
Britain abysses which swallow up the water twice 
a day, and twice a day spout it up again. Paul 
has seen, so he seems to say, the tide, the 'Q/cecu/oTo 
poa?, that inexplicable wonder of the old Greeks 
and Romans, running up far inland at the mouths of 
the Seine and Loire ; and he has to get it explained 



somehow, before he can go forward with a clear con 
science. One of the navels seems to be the Mahl- 
strom in Norway. Of the place of the other there 
is no doubt. It is close to Evodia insula, seen> 
ingly Alderney. For a high noble of the French 
told him so; he was sucked into it, ships and all, 
and only escaped by clinging to a rock. And after 
awhile the margins of that abyss were all left 
bare, leaving the Frenchman high and dry, ' palpi 
tating so with fear/ says Paul, ( that he could hardly 
keep his seat/ But when all the water had been 
sucked in, out and up it" came pouring again, in 
huge mountains, and upon them the Frenchman's 
ships, to his intense astonishment, reappeared out of 
the bottomless pit; into one of which he jumped; 
being, like a true Frenchman, thoroughly master of 
the situation ; and got safe home to tell Paul the 
deacon. It is not quite the explanation of the tides 
which one would have wished for : but if a French 
nobleman of high rank will swear that he saw it 
with his own eyes, what can Paul do, in common 
courtesy, but believe him? 

Paul has observed, too, which is a fact, 
that there is a small tide in his own Adriatic; 
and suggests modestly that there may be a similar 
hole in the bottom of that sea, only a little one, 
the tide being very little. After which, ' his praeli- 
batis/ he will return, he says, to his story. And 
so he goes back to the famous Langbard Saga, 
the old story, which he has turned out of living 


Teutonic verse into dead Latin prose, and calls 
De Woden et Frea qusedam ridicula fabula ; but 
can't help for the life of him telling it, apolo 
gizing all the time. How the Winils (his own 
folk) went out to fight the Wendels, many more 
than them in number; and how Gambara, the 
Alruna-wife, cried to Freia the goddess, and Freia 
told her that whichsoever of the two armies first 
greeted Woden at the sunrise should win. But 
the Winils are -far away on the war-road, and there 
is no time to send to them. So Freia bids her 
take the Winil women, and dress them as war 
riors, and plait their tresses over their lips for 
beards, and cry to Woden; and Woden admires 
their long beards, and thinks them such valiant 
' war-beasts/ that he grants them the victory. 

Then Freia tells him how he has been taken 
in, and the old god laughs till the clouds rattle 
again, and the Winils are called Langbardr ever 

But then conies in the antiquary, and says that 
the etymology is worthless, and that Langbardr 
means long axes (bard = an axe) a word which 
we keep in partizan, and halbert, a hall-axe, or 
guard's pole-axe; and perhaps the antiquary is 

But again comes in a very learned man, Dr 
Latham 1 , and more than hints that the name is 

1 English Language, Vol. i. p. 200. 



derived from the Lange Borde, the long meadows 
by the side of the Elbe: and so a good story 
crumbles to pieces, and 

'All charms do fly 
Beneath the touch of cold philosophy.' 

Then follows another story, possibly from an- 
another saga. How by reason of a great famine 
they had to leave Scoringia, the shore-land, and 
go into Mauringia, a word which Mr Latham 
connects with the Merovingi, or Meerwing con 
querors of Gaul. Others say that it means 
the moorland, others something else. All that 
they will ever find out we may see for our 
selves already. A little tribe of valiant fair- 
haired men, whether all Teutons, or, as Mr Latham 
thinks, Sclavonians with Teuton leaders, still inti 
mately connected with our own English race both 
by their language and their laws, struggling for 
existence on the bleak brown bogs and moors, 
sowing a little barley and flax, feeding a few 
rough cattle, breeding a few great black horses; 
generation after generation fighting their way 
southward, as they exhausted the barren northern 
soils, or became too numerous for their marches, or 
found land left waste in front of them by the emi 
gration of some Suevic, Vandal, or Burgund tribe. 
We know nothing about them, and never shall 
know, save that they wore white linen gaiters, and 
carried long halberts, or pole-axes, and had each 
an immortal soul in him, as dear to God as yours 


or mine, with immense unconscious capabilities, 
which their children have proved right well. 

Then comes another saga, how they met the 
Assipitti, of whom, whether they were Tacitus's 
Usipetes of the Lower Hhine, or Asabiden, the 
remnant of the Asen, who went not to Scan 
dinavia with Odin, we know not, and need not 
know ; and how the Assipitti would not let 
them pass; and how they told the Lombards 
that they had dogheaded men in their tribe who 
drank men's blood, which Mr Latham well ex 
plains by pointing out, in the Traveller's Song, 
a tribe of Hundings (Houndings) sons of the 
hound; and how the Lombards sent out a cham 
pion, who fought the champion of the Assipitti, 
and so gained leave to go on their way. 

Forward they go, toward the south-east, seem 
ingly along the German marches, the debateable 
land between Teuton and Sclav, which would, 
mechanically speaking, be the line of least resist 
ance. We hear of Gothland wherever that hap 
pened to be just then; of Anthaib, the land held 
by the Sclavonian Anten, and Bathaib, possibly 
the land held by the Gepidae, or remnant of the 
Goths who bided behind (as Wessex men still 
say), while the Goths moved forward ; and then 
of Burgundhaib, wherever the Burgunds might 
be then. I know not ; and I will dare to say, no 
man can exactly know. For no dates are given, 
and how can they be? The Lombards have 


not yet emerged out of the dismal darkness of 
the north into the light of Koman civilization; 
and all the history they have are a few scraps 
of saga. 

At last they take a king of the family of 
the Gungings, Agilmund, son of Ayo, like the 
rest of the nations, says Jornandes ; for they will 
be no more under duces, elective war-kings. And 
then follows a fresh saga (which repeats itself in 
the myths of several nations), how a woman has 
seven children at a birth, and throws them for 
shame into a pond; and Agilmund the king, riding 
by, stops to see, and turns them over with his 
lance; and one of the babes lays hold thereof; 
and the king says, 'This will be a great man;' 
and takes him out of the pond, and calls him 
Lamissohn, 'the son of the fishpond/ (so it is 
interpreted;) who grows to be a mighty Kemper 
man, and slays an Amazon. For when they 
come to a certain river, the Amazons forbid them 
to pass, unless they will fight their she-champion ; 
and Lamissohn swims over and fights the war- 
maiden, and slays her; and they go on and come 
into a large land and quiet, somewhere about 
Silesia, it would seem, and abode there a long 

Then down on them come the savage Bulgars 
by night, and slay king Agilmund, and carry off 
his daughter; and Lamissohn follows them, and 
defeats them with a great slaughter, and is made 


king; and so forth: till at last they have got how 
we shall never know near history and historic 
lands. For when Odoacer and his Turklings and 
other confederates went up into Rugiland, the 
country north of Vienna, and destroyed the Ru- 
gians, and Fava their king, then the Lombards 
went down into the waste land of the Rugians, be 
cause it was fertile, and abode there certain years. 
Then they moved on again, we know not why, 
and dwelt in the open plains, which are called feld. 
One says 'Moravia;' but that they had surely left 
behind. Rather it is the western plain of Hun 
gary about Comorn. Be that as it may, they 
quarrelled there with the Heruli. Eutropius says 
that they paid the Herules tribute for the land, 
and offered to pay more, if the Herules would 
not attack them. Paul tells a wild saga, or 
story, of the Lombard king's daughter insulting a 
Herule prince, because he was short of stature ; he 
answered by some counter-insult; and she, furious, 
had him stabbed from behind through a window 
as he sat with his back to it. Then war came. 
The Herules, old and practised warriors, trained 
in the Roman armies, despised the wild Lombards, 
and disdained to use armour against them, fight 
ing with no clothes save girdles. Rodulf their 
king, too certain of victory, sat playing at tables, 
and sent a man up a tree to see how the fight 
went, telling him that he would cut his head off 
if he said that the Herules fled ; and then, touched 


by some secret anxiety as to the end, spoke the 
fatal words himself; and a madness from God 
came on the Herules; and when they came to a 
field of flax, they took the blue flowers for water, 
and spread out their arms to swim through, and 
were all slaughtered defencelessly. 

Then they fought with the Suevi; and their 
kings' daughters married with the kings of the 
Franks; and then ruled Aldwin (a name which 
Dr Latham identifies with our English Eadwin, 
or Edwin, 'the noble conqueror,' though Grotius 
translates it Aud-win, 'the old or auld conqueror'), 
who brought them over the Danube into Panno- 
nia, between the Danube and the Drave, about the 
year 526. Procopius says, that they came by a 
grant from the Emperor Justinian, who gave as 
wife to Aldwin a great niece of Dietrich the Good, 
carried captive with Witigis to Byzant. 

Thus at last they too have reached the fore 
court of the Roman Empire, and are waiting for 
their turn at the Nibelungen hoard. They have 
one more struggle, the most terrible of all ; and 
then they will be for a while the most important 
people of the then world. 

The Gepidse are in Hungary before them, now 
a great people. Ever since they helped to beat 
the Huns at Netad, they have been holding 
Attila's old kingdom for themselves and not 
attempting to move southward into the Empire; 
so fulfilling their name. 


There is continual desultory war ; Justinian, 
according to Procopius' account, playing false 
with each, in order to make them destroy each 
other. Then, once (this is Procopius' story, not 
Paul's) they meet for a great fight; and both 
armies run away by a panic terror ; and Aldwin 
the Lombard and Thorisend the Gepid are left 
alone, face to face. It is the hand of God, 
say the two wild kings God does not mean 
these two peoples to destroy each other. So they 
make a truce for two years. Then the Gepid^e 
call in Cutuguri, a Hunnic tribe, to help them; 
then, says Procopius, Aldwin, helped by Roman 
mercenaries, under Amalfrid the Goth, Theodo- 
ric's great nephew, and brother-in-law of Aldwin, 
has a great fight with the Gepidso. But Paul 
knows naught of all this: with him it is not 
Aldwin, but Alboin his son, who destroys the 
Gepidse. Alboin, Grotius translates as Albe-win, 
'he who wins all:' but Dr Latham, true to his 
opinion that the Lombards and the Angles were 
closely connected, identifies it with our ^Elfwine, 
' the fairy conqueror.' 

Aldwin, Paul says, and Thorisend fought in 
the Asfeld, wherever that may be, and Alboin 
the Lombard prince slew Thorisend the Gepid 
prince, and the Gepidse were defeated with a 
great slaughter. 

Then young Alboin asked his father to let 
him sit at the table with him. No, he could not 


do that, by Lombard custom, till he has become 
son-at-arms to some neighbouring king. 

Young Alboin takes forty thanes, and goes off 
to Thorisend's court, as the guest of his enemy. 
The rites of hospitality are sacred. The king 
receives him, feasts him, seats him, the slayer of 
his son, in his dead son's place. And as he looks 
on him he sighs ; and at last he can contain no 
longer. The seat, he says, I like right well : but 
not the man who sits in it. One of his sons takes 
fire, and begins to insult the Lombards and their 
white gaiters. You Lombards have white legs 
like so many brood mares. A Lombard flashes 
up. Go to the Asfeld, and you will see how 
Lombard mares can kick. Your brother's bones 
are lying about there like any sorry nag's. This 
is too much ; swords are drawn ; but old Thorisend 
leaps up. He will punish the first man who 
strikes. Guests are sacred. Let them sit down 
again, and drink their liquor in peace. And 
after they have drunk, he gives Alboin his dead 
son's weapons, and lets them go in peace, like a 
noble gentleman. 

This grand old King dies in peace. Aldwin dies 
likewise, and to them succeed their sons, Alboin 
and Cunimund the latter probably the prince who 
made the jest about the brood-mares and they 
two will fight the quarrel out. Cunimund, says 
Paul, began the war of course that is his story. 
Alboin is growing a great man; he has married 


a daughter of Clotaire, king of the Franks : and 
now he takes to his alliance the Avars, who 
have just burst into the Empire, wild people 
who afterwards founded a great kingdom in the 
Danube lands, and they ravage Cunimund's 
lands. He will fight the Lombards first, never 
theless : he can settle the Avars after. He and 
his, says Paul, are slain to a man. Alboin 
makes a drinking-cup of his skull, carries off his 
daughter Rosamund (' Rosy-mouth'), and a vast 
multitude of captives and immense wealth. The 
Gepidae vanish from history ; to this day (says 
Paul) slaves either of the Lombards or the Huns 
(by whom he rather means Avars) ; and Alboin 
becomes the hero of his time, praised even to 
Paul's days in sagas, Saxon and Bavarian as 
well as Lombard, for his liberality and his glory. 
We shall see now how he has his chance at the 
Nibelungen hoard. 

He has heard enough (as all Teutons have) of 
Italy, its beauty, and its weakness. He has 
sent five thousand chosen warriors to Narses, to 
help him against Totila and the Ostrogoths ; and 
they have told him of the fair land, and large, with 
its vineyards, olive-groves, and orchards, waste by 
war and pestilence, and crying out for human 
beings to come and till it once more. 

There is no force left in Italy now, which can 
oppose him. Hardly any left in the Roman 
world. The plague is come ; to add its horrors 


to all the other horrors of the time the true old 
plague, as far as I can ascertain ; bred, men say, 
from the Serbonian bog ; the plague which visited 
Athens in the time of Socrates, and England in 
the seventeenth century: and after the plague a 
famine ; woe on woe, through all the dark days 
of Justinian the demon-emperor. The Ostrogoths, 
as you know, were extinct as a nation. The two 
deluges of Franks and Allmen, which, under the 
two brothers Buccelin and Lothaire, all on foot 
(for the French, as now, were no horsemen), had 
rolled into Italy during the Gothic war, had been 
swallowed up, as all things were, in the fatal 
gulf of Italy. Lothaire and his army, returning 
laden with plunder, had rotted away like sheep 
by Lake Benacus (Garda now) of drink, and 
of the plague. Buccelin, entrenched among his 
plunder- waggons by the Volturno stream in the 
far south, had waited in vain for that dead 
brother and his dead host, till Narses came on 
him, with his army of trained Herules and Goths; 
the Francisc axe and barbed pike had proved 
useless before the arrows and the cavalry of the 
Romans ; and no more than five Allmen, says 
one, remained of all that mighty host. Awful 
to think of: 75,000 men, they say, in one column, 
100,000 in the other : and like water they flowed 
over the land ; and like water they sank into the 
ground, and left no trace. 

And now Narses, established as exarch of 


Kavenna, a sort of satrap, like those of the Per 
sian Emperors, and representing the Emperor 
of Constantinople, was rewarded for all his con 
quests and labours by disgrace. Eunuch-like, he 
loved money, they said ; and eunuch-like, he was 
harsh and cruel. The Empress Sophia, listening 
too readily to court-slanders, bade him ' leave to 
men the use of arms, and come back to the palace, 
to spin among the maids.' 'Tell her/ said the 
terrible old imp, 'I will spin her such a thread 
as she shall not unravel.' 

He went, superseded by Longinus; but not 
to Constantinople. From Naples he sent (so says 
Paul the Deacon) to Alboin, and bade him come 
and try his fortune as king of Italy. He sent, 
too, (so says old Paul) presents to tempt the 
simple Lombard men such presents as children 
would like all fruits which grew in Italian 
orchards. Though the gold was gone, those were 
still left. Great babies they were, these Teutons, 
as I told you at the first; and Narses knew it 
well, and had used them for his ends for many 
a year. 

Then were terrible signs seen in Italy by 
night; fiery armies fighting in the sky, and 
streams of blood aloft, foreshadowing the blood 
which should be shed. 

Sent for or not, King Alboin came ; and with 
him all his army, and a mighty multitude, women, 
and children, and slaves ; Bavarians, Gepidse, 


Bulgars, Sarmatae, Pannonians, Sueves, and Nori- 
cans ; whose names (says Paul) remain unto this 
day in the names of the villages where they settled. 
With Alboin, too, came Saxons, twenty thousand 
of them at the least, with wife and child. And 
Sigebert king of the Franks put Suevic settlers 
into the lands which the Saxons had left. 

Alboin gave up his own Hungarian land to 
his friends the Avars, on the condition that he 
should have them back if he had to return. But 
return he never did, he nor his Lombard host. 
This is the end. The last invasion of Italy. The 
sowing, once for all, of an Italian people. Fresh 
nations were still pressing down to the rear of 
the Alps, waiting for their turn to enter the Fairy 
Land not knowing, perhaps, that nothing was 
left therein, but ashes and blood : but their 
chance was over now: a people were going into 
Italy who could hold what they got. 

On Easter Tuesday, in the year of grace 568, 
they came, seemingly by the old road; the path 
of Alaric and Dietrich and the rest ; the pass 
from Carniola, through which the rail runs now 
from Laybach to Trieste. It must have been 
white, in those days, with the bones of nigh 200 
years. And they found bisons, aurochsen, in the 
mountains, Paul says, and is not surprised there 
at, because there are plenty of them in Hungary 
near by. An old man told him he had seen a 
skin in which fifteen men might lie side by side. 


None, you must know, are left now, save a very 
few in the Lithuanian forests. Paul goes out of 
his way to note this fact, and so shall I. 

Alboin left a strong guard in Friuli, and 
Paul's ancestor among them, under Gisulf his 
nephew, and Marphrais or master of the horse, 
who now became duke of Friuli and warden of 
the marches, bound to prevent the Avars follow 
ing them into their new abode. Then the human 
deluge spread itself slowly over the Lombard 
plains. None fought with them, and none gain 
said; for all the land was waste. The plague of 
three years before, and the famine which follow 
ed it had, says Paul, reduced the world into 
primaeval silence. The villages had no inhabitants 
but dogs ; the sheep were pasturing without a 
shepherd ; the wild birds swarmed unhurt about 
the fields. The corn was springing self-sown under 
the April sun, the vines sprouting unpruned, the 
lucerne fields unmown, when the great Lombard 
people flowed into that waste land, and gave to 
it their own undying name. 

The scanty population, worn out with misery, 
fled to rocks and islands in the lakes, and to 
the seaport towns : but they seem to have found 
the Lombards merciful masters, and bowed 
their necks meekly to the inevitable yoke. The 
towns alone seem to have offered resistance. 
Pavia Alboin besieged three years, and could 
not take. He swore some wild oath of utter 


destruction to all within, and would have kept 
it. At last they capitulated. As Alboin rode 
in at St John's gate, his horse slipped up ; and 
could not rise, though the grooms beat him with 
their lance-butts. A ghostly fear came on the 
Lombards. ' Remember, lord king, thy cruel oath, 
and cancel it ; for there are Christian folk in the 
city.' Alboin cancelled his oath, and the horse 
rose at once. So Alboin spared the people of 
Pavia, and entered the palace of old Dietrich the 
Ostrogoth, as king of Italy, as far as the gates 
of Rome and Ravenna. 

And what was his end ? Such an end as he 
deserved ; earned and worked out for himself. A 
great warrior, he had destroyed many nations, 
and won a fair land. A just and wise governor, 
he had settled North Italy on some rough feudal 
system, without bloodshed or cruelty. A pas 
sionate savage, he died as savages deserve to die. 
You recollect Rosamund his Gepid bride ? In 
some mad drinking-bout (perhaps cherishing still 
his old hatred of her family) he sent her her 
father's skull full of wine, and bade her drink 
before all. She drank, and had her revenge. 

The story has become world-famous from its 
horror: but I suppose I must tell it you in its 
place. How she went to Helmichis the shield- 
bearer, and he bade her get Peredeo the Kemper 
man to do the deed : and how Peredeo intrigued 
with one of her bower-maidens, and how Rosa- 


mund did a deed of darkness, and deceived Pere- 
deo ; and then said to him, I am thy mistress ; 
thou must slay thy master, or thy master thee. 
And how he, like Gyges in old Herodotus's tale, 
preferred to survive; and how Rosamund bound 
the king's sword to his bedstead as he slept his 
mid-day sleep, and Peredeo did the deed ; and how 
Alboin leapt up, and fought with his footstool, 
but in vain. And how, after he was dead, Rosa 
mund became Helnrichis' leman, as she had been 
Peredeo's, and fled with him to Ravenna, with all 
the treasure and Alpswintha, Alboin's daughter 
by the Frankish wife ; and how Longinus the 
exarch persuaded her to poison Helmichis, and 
marry him; and how she gave Helmichis the poi 
soned cup as he came out of the bath, and he 
saw by the light of her wicked eyes that it was 
poison, and made her drink the rest; and so they 
both fell dead. And then how Peredeo and the 
treasure w^ere sent to the Emperor at Constan 
tinople ; and how Peredeo slew a great lion in the 
theatre ; and how Tiberius, when he saw that he 
was so mighty a man of his hands, bade put his 
eyes out ; and how he hid two knives in his 
sleeves, and slew with them two great chamber 
lains of the Emperor ; and so died, like Samson, 
says old Paul, having got good weregeld for the 
loss of his eyes a man for either eye. 

And old Narses died at Rome, at a great age ; 
and they wrapt him in lead, and sent him to 



Byzant with all his wealth. But some say that 
while he was still alive, he hid his wealth in a 
great cistern, and slew all who knew of it save one 
old man, and swore him never to reveal the place. 
But after Narses' death that old man went to 
Constantinople to Tiberius the Caesar, and told 
him how he could not die with that secret on his 
mind; and so Tiberius got all the money, so much 
that it took many days to carry away, and gave 
it all to the poor, as was his wont. 

A myth a fable : but significant, as one more 
attempt to answer the question of all questions in 
a Teuton's mind What had become of the Nibel- 
ungen hoard ? What had become of all the 
wealth of Rome ? 



I ASKED in my first lecture, ( What would become 
of the forest children, unless some kind saint or 
hermit took pity on them ? ' 

I used the words saint and hermit with a 
special purpose. It was by the influence, actual 
or imaginary, of such, that the Teutons, after the 
destruction of the Roman empire, were saved 
from becoming hordes of savages, destroying each 
other by continual warfare. 

What our race owes, for good and for evil, to 
the Roman clergy, I shall now try to set before 

To mete out to them their due share of praise 
and blame is, I confess, a very difficult task. It 
can only be fulfilled by putting oneself, as far as 
possible, in their place, and making human allow 
ance for the circumstances, utterly novel and unex 
pected, in which they found themselves during 
the Teutonic invasions. Thus, perhaps, we may 



find it true of some of them, as of others, that 
' Wisdom is justified of all her children/ 

That is a hard saying for human nature. Jus 
tified of her children she may be, after we have 
settled which are to be her children and which 
not: but of all her children? That is a hard say 
ing. And yet was not every man from the begin 
ning of the world, who tried with his whole soul 
to be right, and to do good, a child of wisdom, of 
whom she at least will be justified, whether he is 
justified or not ? He may have had his igno 
rances, follies, weaknesses, possibly crimes : but 
he served the purpose of his mighty mother. He 
did, even by his follies, just what she wanted done ; 
and she is justified of all her children. 

This may sound like optimism : but it also 
sounds like truth to any one who has fairly studied 
that fantastic page of history, the contrast between 
the old monks and our own heathen forefathers. 
The more one studies the facts, the less one is in 
clined to ask, 'Why was it not done better?' the 
more inclined to ask, * Could it have been .done 
better V Were not the celibate clergy, from the 
fifth to the eighth centuries, exceptional agents 
fitted for an exceptional time, and set to do a work 
which in the then state of the European races, 
none else could have done ? At least, so one sus 
pects, after experience of their chronicles and 
legends, sufficient to make one thoroughly detect 
the evil which was in their system : but sufficient 


also to make one thoroughly love many of the 
men themselves. 

A few desultory sketches, some carefully his 
torical, the rest as carefully compiled from com 
mon facts, may serve best to illustrate my 

The monk and clergyman, whether celibate or 
not, worked on the heathen generally in one of 
three capacities: As tribune of the people; as 
hermit or solitary prophet; as colonizer; and in 
all three, worked as well as frail human beings 
are wont to do, in this most piecemeal world. 

Let us look first at the Hermits. All know 
what an important part they play in old romances 
and ballads. All are not aware that they played 
as important a part in actual history. Scattered 
through all wildernesses from the cliffs of the 
Hebrides to the Sclavonian marches, they put forth 
a power, uniformly, it must be said, for good. 

Every one knows how they appear in the old 
romances. How some Sir Bertrand or other, wea 
ried with the burden of his sins, stumbles on one 
of these Einsiedlern, ' settlers alone/ and talks with 
him ; and goes on a wiser and a better man. How 
he crawls, perhaps, out of some wild scuffle, ' ail-to 
bebled/ and reeling to his saddlebow; arid 'ever 
he went through a waste land, and rocks rough 
and strait, so that it him seemed he must surely 
starve ; and anon he heard a little bell, whereat he 
marvelled; and betwixt the water and the wood 


he was aware of a chapel, and an hermitage ; and 
there a holy man said mass, for he was a priest, 
and a great leech, and cunning withal. And Sir 
Bertrand went in to him and told him all his case 
how he fought Sir Marculf for love of the fair 
Ellinore, and how the king bade part them, and 
how Marculf did him open shame at the wine- 
board, and how he went about to have slain him 
privily, but could not; and then how he went and 
wasted Marculfs lands, house with byre, kine 
with corn, till a strong woman smote him over 
the head with a quernstone, and ail-to broke his 
brain-pan;' and so forth the usual story of mad 
passion, drink, pride, revenge. 

* And there the holy man a-read him right godly 
doctrine, and shrived him, and gave him an oath 
upon the blessed Gospels, that fight he should 
not, save in his liege lord's quarrel, for a year and 
a day. And there he abode till he was well healed, 
he and his horse.' 

Must not that wild fighting Bertrand have 
gone away from that place a wiser and a better 
man ? Is it a matter to be regretted, or other 
wise, that such men as the hermit were to be 
found in that forest, to mend Bertrand's head and 
his morals, at the same time ? Is it a matter to 
be regretted, or otherwise, that after twenty or 
thirty years more of fighting and quarrelling and 
drinking, this same Sir Bertrand finding that on 
the whole the lust of the flesh, the lust of the 


eye, and the pride of life, were poor paymasters, 
and having very sufficient proof, in the ends of 
many a friend and foe, that the wages of sin are 
death ' fell to religion likewise, and was a hermit 
in that same place, after the holy man was dead; 
and was made priest of that same chapel; and 
died in honour, having succoured many good 
knights, and wayfaring men ' ? 

One knows very well that it would not be 
right now; that it is not needed now. It is child 
ish to repeat that, when the question is, was it 
right then or, at least, as right as was possible 
then? Was it needed then or, at least, the 
nearest thing to that which was needed? 

If it was, why should not wisdom be justified 
of all her children ? 

One hopes that she was ; for certainly, if any 
men ever needed to be in the right, lest they should 
be of all men most miserable, it was these same 
old hermits. Praying and preaching continually, 
they lived on food which dogs would not eat, in 
dens in which dogs ought not to live. They had 
their reasons. Possibly they knew their own 
business best. Possibly also they knew their 
neighbour's business somewhat ; they knew that 
such generations as they lived in could not be 
taught, save by some extravagant example of this 
kind, some caricature, as it were, of the doctrines 
which were to be enforced. Nothing less startling, 
perhaps, could have touched the dull hearts, have 


convinced the dull brains, of fierce, ignorant, and 
unreasoning men. 

Ferocity, lawlessness, rapine, cruelty, and 
when they were glutted and debauched by the 
spoils of the Roman empire sensuality, were the 
evils which were making Europe uninhabitable 
for decent folk, and history as Milton called it 
a mere battle of kites and crows. What less than 
the example of the hermit especially when that 
hermit was a delicate and high-born woman 
could have taught men the absolute superiority 
of soul to body, of spiritual to physical force, of 
spiritual to physical pleasure, and have said to 
them, not in vain words, but solid acts ' All 
that you follow is not the way of life. The very 
opposite to it is the way of life. The wages of 
sin are death ; and you will find them so, in this 
life the victims of your own passions, and of the 
foes whom your crimes arouse, and in life to come 
of hell for ever. But I tell you I have no mind 
to go to hell. I have a mind to go to heaven ; 
and I know my mind right well. If the world is 
to be such as this, and the rulers thereof such 
as you, I will flee from you. I will not enter into 
the congregation of sinners, neither will I cast 
in my lot with the blood-thirsty. I will be alone 
with God and His universe. I will go to the 
mountain cave or to the ocean cliff, and there, 
while the salt wind whistles through my hair, I 
will be stronger than you, safer than you, richer 


than you, happier than you. Richer than you, 
for I -shall have for my companion the beatific 
vision of God, and of all things and beings God 
like, fair, noble, just, and merciful. Stronger 
than you, because virtue will give me a power 
over the hearts of men such as your force cannot 
give you ; and you will have to come to my lonely 
cell, and ask me to advise you, and teach you, and 
help you against the consequences of your own 
sins. Safer than you, because God in whom 
I trust will protect me : and if not, I have still 
the everlasting life of heaven, which this world can 
not give or take away. So go your ways, fight 
and devour one another, the victims of your own 
lusts. I am minded to be a good man; and to 
be that, I will give up as you have made all 
other methods impossible for me all which seems 
to make life worth having' ? Oh ! instead of 
finding fault with such men; instead of, with vul- 
turine beak, picking out the elements of Mani- 
chseism, of conceit, of discontent, of what not 
human frailty and ignorance, which may have 
been in them, let us honour the enormous moral 
force which enabled them so to bear witness that 
not the mortal animal, but the immortal spirit, is 
the Man; and that when all which outward cir 
cumstance can give is cast away, the Man still 
lives for ever, by God, and in God. 

And they did teach that lesson. They were 
good, while other men were bad; and men saw 


the beauty of goodness, and felt the strength of 
it, and worshipped it in blind savage admiration. 
Read Roswede's Vitas Patrum Eremiticorum ; read 
the legends of the hermits of the German forests ; 
read Colgan's Lives of the Irish Saints; and see 
whether, amid all fantastic, incredible, sometimes 
immoral myths, the goodness of life of some 
one or other is not the historic nucleus, round 
which the myths, and the worship of the saint, 
have crystallized and developed. 

Take, for instance, the exquisite hymn of St 
Bridget, which Colgan attributes to the sixth 
century: though it is probably much later; that 
has nothing to do with the argument : 

' Bridget, the victorious, she loved not the world ; 
She sat on it as a gull sits on the ocean ; 
She slept the sleep of a captive mother, 
Mourning after her absent child. 

She suffered not much from evil tongues ; 
She held the blessed faith of the Trinity; 
Bridget, the mother of my Lord of Heaven, 
The best among the sons of the Lord. 

She was not querulous, nor malevolent ; 

She loved not the fierce wrangling of women ; 

She was not a backbiting serpent, or a liar ; 

She sold not the Son of God for that which passes away. 

She was not greedy of the goods of this life ; 
She gave away without gall, without slackness ; 
She was not rough to wayfaring men ; 
She handled gently the wretched lepers. 

She built her a town in the plains (of Kildare) ; 
And dead, she is the patroness of many peoples.' 


I might comment much on this quotation. 
I might point out how St Bridget is called the 
mother of the Lord, and by others, the Mary of 
the Irish, the i Automata coeli regina,' and seems 
to have been considered at times as an avatar 
or incarnation of the blessed Virgin. I might 
more than hint how that appellation, as well as 
the calling of Christ ' the best of the sons of the 
Lord/ in an orthodox Catholic hymn, seems to 
point to the remnants of an older creed, possibly 
Buddhist, the transition whence towards Catholic 
Christianity was slow and imperfect. I might 
make merry over the fact that there are many Brid 
gets, some say eleven ; even as there are three or 
four St Patricks; and raise learned doubts as to 
whether such persons ever existed, after that 
Straussian method of pseudo-criticism which cometh 
not from above, from the Spirit of God, rior yet 
indeed from below, from the sound region of fact, 
but from within, out of the naughtiness of the 
heart, defiling a man. I might weaken, too, the 
effect of the hymn by going on with the rest 
of it, and making you smile at its childish 
miracles and portents ; but I should only do 
a foolish thing, by turning your minds away 
from the broad fact that St Bridget, or various 
persons who got, in the lapse of time, massed 
together under the name of St Bridget, were emi 
nently good women. 

It matters little whether these legends are 


historically correct. Their value lies in the moral 
of them. And as for their real historical correct 
ness, the Straussian argument that no such per 
sons existed, because lies are told of them, is, I 
hold, most irrational. The falsehood would not 
have been invented unless it had started in a 
truth. The high moral character ascribed to 
them would never have been dreamed of by per 
sons who had not seen living instances of that 
character. Man's imagination does not create; it 
only reproduces and recombines its own expe 
rience. It does so in dreams. It does so, as far 
as the moral character of the saint is concerned, 
in the legend; and if there had not been persons 
like St Bridget in Ireland; the wild Irish could 
never have imagined them. 

Therefore it matters little to a wise man, stand 
ing on the top of Croagh Patrick, the grandest 
mountain perhaps, with the grandest outlook, in 
these British isles, as he looks on the wild Irish 
there on pattern days, up among the Atlantic 
clouds, crawling on bare and bleeding knees round 
St Patrick's cell, it matters little, I say, to the 
wise man, whether St Patrick himself owned the 
ancient image which is worshipped on that moun 
tain peak, or the ancient bell which till late years 
hung in the sanctuary, such a strange oblong 
bell as the Irish saints carried with them to keep 
off the demons the magic bells which appear (as 
far as I am aware) in the legends of no country 


till you get to Tartary and the Buddhists ; such 
a bell as came (or did not come) down from 
heaven to St Senan ; such a bell as St Fursey 
sent flying through the air to greet St Cuanady at 
his devotions when he could not come himself; 
such a bell as another saint, wandering in the 
woods, rang till a stag came out of the covert, and 
carried his burden for him on his horns. It 
matters as little to the wise man whether that bell 
belonged to St Patrick, as whether all these child's 
dreams are dreams. It matters little to him, too, 
whether St Patrick did, or did not stand on that 
mountain peak, ' in the spirit and power of Elias' 
(after whom it was long named), fasting, like 
Elias, forty days and forty nights, wrestling with 
the demons of the storm, and the snakes of the 
fen, and the Peishta-more (the monstrous Python 
of the lakes), which assembled at the magic ring 
ing of his bell, till he conquered not by the brute 
force of a Hercules and Theseus, and the rnon- 
ster-quellers of old Greece, but by the spiritual 
force of which (so the text was then applied) it is 
written, ' This kind cometh not out but by prayer 
and fasting/ till he smote the evil things with 
6 the golden rod of Jesus/ and they rolled over 
the cliff, in hideous rout, and perished in the 
Atlantic far below. But it matters much to a 
wise man that under all these symbols (not childish 
at all, but most grand, to the man who knows the 
grand place of which they are told), there is set 


forth the victory of a good and beneficent man 
over evil, whether of matter or of spirit. It mat 
ters much to him that that cell, that bell, that 
image are tokens that if not St Patrick, some one 
else, at least, did live and worship on that moun 
tain top, in remote primaeval times, in a place 
in which we would not, perhaps could not, endure 
life a week. It matters much to him that the 
man who so dwelt there, gained such a power over 
the minds of the heathen round him, that five 
millions of their Christian descendants worship 
him, and God on account of him, at this day. 

St Ita, again. It matters little that she did 
not because she could not perform the miracles 
imputed to her. It matters little whether she 
had or not as I do not believe her to have had 
a regularly organized convent of nuns in Ire 
land during the sixth century. It matters little 
if the story which follows is a mere invention of 
the nuns in some after-century, in order to make 
a good title for the lands which they held a 
trick but too common in those days. But it 
matters much that she should have been such a 
person, that such a story as this, when told of her, 
should have gained belief: How the tribes of 
Hy-Connell, hearing of her great holiness, came 
to her with their chiefs, and offered her all the 
land about her cell. But she, not wishing to 
be entangled with earthly cares, accepted but four 
acres round her cell, for a garden of herbs for her 


and her nuns. And the simple wild Irish were 
sad and angry, and said, ' If thou wilt not take 
it alive, thou shalt take it when thou art dead. 
So they chose her then and there for their patron 
ess, and she blessed them with many blessings, 
which are fulfilled unto this day; and when she 
migrated to the Lord they gave her all the land, 
and her nuns hold it to this day, the land of 
Hy-Gonnell on the east Shannon bank, at the 
roots of Luachra mountain.' 

What a picture ! One hopes that it may be 
true, for the sake of its beauty and its pathos. 
The poor, savage, half-naked, and, I fear, on the 
authority of St Jerome and others, now and then 
cannibal Celts, with their saffron scarfs, and skenes, 
and darts, and glibs of long hair hanging -over 
their hypo-gorillaceous visages, coming to the pro 
phet maiden, and asking her to take their land, 
for they could make no decent use of it them 
selves; and look after them, body and soul, for 
they could not look after themselves ; and pray 
for them to her God, for they did not know how 
to pray to Him themselves. If any man shall 
regret that such an event happened to any savages 
on this earth, I am, I confess, sorry for him. 

St Severinus, again, whom I have mentioned 
to you more than once : none of us can be 
lieve that he made a dead corpse (Silvinus the 
priest, by name) sit up and talk with him on 
its road to burial. None of us need believe that 


he stopped the plague at Vienna by his prayers. 
None of us need attribute to anything but his 
sagacity the Divine revelations whereby he pre 
dicted the destruction of a town for its wickedness, 
and escaped thence, like Lot, alone ; or by which 
he discovered, during the famine of Vienna, that 
a certain rich widow had much corn hidden in 
her cellars: but there are facts enough, credible 
and undoubted, concerning St Severinus, the 
apostle of Austria, to make us trust that in him, 
too, wisdom was justified of all her children. 

You may remark, among the few words 
which have been as yet said of St Severinus, a 
destruction, a plague, and a famine. Those words 
are a fair sample of St Severinus's times, and of 
the circumstances into which he voluntarily threw 
himself. About the middle of the fifth century 
there appears in the dying Roman province of 
Noricum (Austria we now call it) a strange gen 
tleman,' eloquent and learned beyond all, and with 
the strangest power of melting and ruling the 
hearts of men. Who he is he will not tell, save 
that his name is Severinus, a right noble name 
without doubt. Gradually it oozes out that he has 
been in the far East, through long travels and 
strange dangers, through many cities and many 
lands; but he will tell nothing. He is the servant 
of God, come hither to try to be of use. He cer 
tainly could have come for no other reason, unless 
to buy slaves; for Austria was at that time the 


very highway of the nations, the centre of the 
human Mahlstrom, in which Huns, Gepiden, All- 
mannen, Rugen, and a dozen wild tribes more, 
wrestled up and down round the starving and be 
leaguered Roman towns of that once fertile and 
happy province. A man who went there for his 
own pleasure, or even devotion, would have been 
as wise as one who had built himself last summer 
a villa on the Rappahannock, or retired for private 
meditation to the orchard of Hougoumont during 
the battle of Waterloo. 

Nevertheless, there Severinus stayed till men 
began to appreciate him ; and called him, and not 
unjustly, Saint. "Why not? He preached, he 
taught, he succoured, he advised, he fed, he go 
verned; he turned aside the raids of the wild Ger 
man kings; he gained a divine power over their 
hearts; he taught them something of God and of 
Christ, something of justice and mercy; something 
of peace and unity among themselves; till the fame 
ran through all the Alps, and far away into the 
Hungarian marches, that there was a prophet of 
God arisen in the land; and before the unarmed 
man, fasting and praying in his solitary cell on the 
mountain above Vienna, ten thousand knights and 
champions trembled, who never had trembled at 
the sight of armed hosts. 

Who would deny that man the name of saint? 
And who, if by that sagacity which comes from 
the combination of intellect and virtue, he some- 



times seemed miraculously to foretel coming events, 
would deny him the name of prophet also? 

If St Severinus be the type of the monk as 
prophet, St Columba may stand as the type of the 
missionary monk; the good man strengthened by 
lonely meditation ; but using that strength not for 
selfish fanaticism, but for the good of men ; going 
forth unwillingly out of his beloved solitude, that 
he may save souls. Bound him, too, cluster the 
usual myths. He drives away with the sign of 
the cross a monster which attacks him at a ford. 
He expels from a fountain the devils who smote 
with palsy and madness all who bathed therein. 
He sees by a prophetic spirit, he sitting in his cell 
in Ireland, a great Italian town destroyed by a 
volcano. His friends behold a column of light 
rising from his head as he celebrates mass. Yes; 
but they also tell of him, ' that he was angelical in 
look, brilliant in speech, holy in work, clear in in 
tellect, great in council/ That he ' never passed 
an hour without prayer, or a holy deed, or reading 
of the Scriptures (for these old monks had Bibles, 
and knew them by heart too, in spite of all that 
has been written to the contrary), that he was of 
so excellent a humility and charity, bathing his 
disciples' feet when they came home from labour, 
and carrying corn from the mill on his own back, 
that he fulfilled the precept of his Master, 'He 
that will be the greatest among you, let him be as 
your servant.' 


They also tell of him (and this is fact and his 
tory) how he left his monastery of Derm Each, 
'the field of oaks/' which we call Deny, and went 
away at the risk of his life to preach to the wild 
Picts of Galloway, and founded the great monas 
tery of lona, and that succession of abbots from 
whom Christianity spread over the south of Scot 
land and north of England, under his great suc 
cessor Aidan. 

Aidan has his myths likewise. They tell of 
him how he stilled the sea- waves with holy oil; 
how he turned back on Penda and his Saxons 
the flames with which the heathen king was try 
ing to burn down Bamborough walls. But they 
tell, too (and Bede had heard it from those who 
had known Aidan in the flesh) of 'his love of 
peace and charity, his purity and humility, his 
mind superior to avarice or pride, his authority, 
becoming a minister of Christ, in reproving the 
haughty and powerful, and his tenderness in re 
lieving the afflicted, and defending the poor/ Who, 
save one who rejoiceth in evil, instead of rejoicing 
in the truth, will care to fix his eyes for a moment 
upon the fairy tales which surround such a story, 
as long as there shines out from among them clear 
and pure, in spite of all doctrinal errors, the grace 
of God, the likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord? 

Let us look next at the priest as Tribune of 
the people, supported usually by the invisible, 
but most potent presence of the saint, whose relics 



he kept. One may see that side of his power in 
Raphael's immortal design of Attila's meeting 
with the Pope at the gates of Rome, and recoiling 
as he sees St Peter and St Paul floating terrible 
and threatening above the Holy City. Is it a 
myth, a falsehood? Not altogether. Such a man 
as Attila probably would have seen them, with 
his strong savage imagination, as incapable as 
that of a child from distinguishing between dreams 
and facts, between the subjective and the objective 
world. And it was on the whole well for him 
and for mankind, that he should think that he 
saw them, and tremble before the spiritual and the 
invisible; confessing a higher law than that of 
his own ambition and self-will; a higher power 
than that of his brute Tartar hordes. 

Raphael's design is but a famous instance of an 
influence which wrought through the length and 
breadth of the down- trodden and dying Roman 
Empire, through the four fearful centuries which 
followed the battle of Adrianople. The wild 
licence, the 'boyish audacity, of the invading 
Teutons was never really checked, save by the 
priest and the monk who worshipped over the 
bones of some old saint tor martyr, whose name 
the Teutons had never heard. 

Then, as the wild King, Earl, or Comes, with 
his wild reiters at his heels, galloped through the 
land, fighting indiscriminately his Roman ene 
mies, and his Teutonic rivals harrying, slaughter- 


ing, burning by field and wild he was aware at 
last of something which made him pause. Some 
little walled town, built on the ruins of a great 
Roman city, with its Byzantine minster towering 
over the thatched roofs, sheltering them as the 
oak shelters the last night's fungus at its base. 
More than once in the last century or two, has 
that same town been sacked. More than once has 
the surviving priest crawled out of his hiding- 
place when the sound of war was past, called the 
surviving poor around him, dug the dead out of 
the burning ruins for Christian burial, built up a 
few sheds, fed a few widows and orphans, organ 
ized some form of orderly life out of the chaos of 
blood and ashes, in the name of God and St Quem- 
deusvult whose bones he guards; and so he has 
established a temporary theocracy, and become a 
sort of tribune of the people, magistrate and 
father the only one they have. And now he 
will try the might of St Quemdeusvult against 
the wild king, and see if he can save the town 
from being sacked once more. So out he comes 
a bishop perhaps, with priests, monks, crucifixes, 
banners, litanies. The wild king must come no 
further. That land belongs to no mortal man, 
but to St Quemdeusvult, martyred here by the 
heathen five hundred years ago. Some old Kaiser 
of Rome, or it may be some former Gothic king, 
gave that place to the saint for ever, and the saint 
will avenge his rights. He is very merciful to 


those who duly honour him : but very terrible in 
his wrath if he be aroused. Has not the king 
heard how the Count of such a place, only forty 
years before, would have carried off a maiden from 
St Quemdeusvult's town; and when the bishop 
withstood him, he answered that he cared no more 
for the relics of the saint than for the relics of a 
dead ass, and so took the maiden and went? 
But within a year and a day, he fell down dead in 
his drink, and when they came to lay out the 
corpse, behold the devils had carried it away, and 
put a dead ass in its place. 

All which the bishop would fully believe. 
"Why not? He had no physical science to tell 
him that it was impossible. Morally, it was in 
his eyes just, and therefore probable ; while as 
for testimony, men were content with very little 
in those days, simply because they could get very 
little. News progressed slowly in countries deso 
late and roadless, and grew as it passed from 
mouth to mouth, as it did in the Highlands a 
century ago, as it did but lately in the Indian 
Mutiny ; till after a fact had taken ten years in 
crossing a few mountains and forests, it had as 
sumed proportions utterly fantastic and gigantic. 

So the wild king and his wild knights pause. 
They can face flesh and blood : but who can face 
the quite infinite terrors of an unseen world \ 
They are men of blood too, men of evil lives; 
and conscience makes them cowards. They begin 


to think that they have gone too far. Could they 
see the saint, and make it up with him somewhat ? 

No. The saint they cannot see. To open his 
shrine would be to commit the sin of Uzzah. 
Palsy and blindness would be the least that would 
follow. But the dome under which he lies all 
men may see ; and perhaps the saint may listen, 
if they speak him fair. 

They feel more and more uncomfortable. This 
saint, in heaven at God's right hand, and yet 
there in the dom-church is clearly a mysterious, 
ubiquitous person, who may take them in the 
rear very unexpectedly. And his priests, with 
their book-learning, and their sciences, and their 
strange dresses and chants who knows what 
secret powers, magical or other, they may not 
possess ? 

They bluster at first : being (as I have said) 
much of the temper and habits, for good and evil, 
of English navvies. But they grow more and more 
uneasy, full of childish curiosity, and undefined 
dread. So into the town they go, on promise 
(which they will honourably keep, being German 
men) of doing no harm to the plebs, the half Roman 
artisans and burghers who are keeping themselves 
alive here the last dying remnants of the civili 
zation, and luxury, and cruelty, and wickedness, 
of a great Roman colonial city ; and they stare 
at arts and handicrafts new to them ; and are 
hospitably fed by bishops and priests ; and then 


they go, trembling and awkward, into the great 
dom-church ; and gaze wondering at the frescoes, 
and the carvings of the arcades marbles from 
Italy, porphyries from Egypt, all patched together 
out of the ruins of Koman baths, and temples, 
and theatres ; and at last they arrive at the saint's 
shrine itself some marble sarcophagus, most pro 
bably covered with vine and ivy leaves, with 
nymphs and satyrs, long since consecrated with 
holy water to a new and better use. Inside that 
lies the saint, asleep, yet ever awake. So they 
had best consider in whose presence they are, 
and fear God and St Quemdeusvult, and cast 
away the seven deadly sins wherewith they are 
defiled ; for the saint is a righteous man, and 
died for righteousness' sake ; and those who rob 
the orphan and the widow, and put the fatherless 
to death, them he cannot abide ; and them he will 
watch like an eagle of the sky, and track like 
a wolf of the wood, till he punishes them with a 
great destruction. In short, the bishop preaches 
to the king and his men a right noble and valiant 
sermon, calling things by their true names with 
out fear or favour, and assuming, on the mere 
strength of being in the right, a tone of calm 
superiority which makes the strong armed men 
blush and tremble before the weak and helpless 

Yes. Spirit is stronger than flesh. " Meekly 
bend thy neck, Seecamber ! " said St Remigius 


to the great conquering King Clovis, when he 
stept into the baptismal font (not "Most Gra 
cious Majesty," or "illustrious Caesar," or "by 
the grace of God Lord of the Franks," but See- 
camber, as a missionary might now say Maori, or 
Caffre, and yet St Eemigius's life was in Clevis's 
hand then and always), "Burn what thou hast 
adored, and adore what thou hast burned ! " And 
the terrible Clovis trembled and obeyed. 

So does the wild king at the shrine of St 
Quemdeusvult. He takes his bracelet, or his 
jewel, and offers it civilly enough. Will the 
bishop be so good as to inform the great Earl 
St Quemdeusvult, that he was not aware of his 
rights, or even of his name ; that perhaps he will 
deign to accept this jewel, which he took off the 
neck of a Roman General that that on the 
whole he is willing to make the amende honor 
able, as far as is consistent with the feelings of 
a nobleman ; and trusts that the saint, being a 
nobleman too, will be satisfied therewith. 

After which, probably, it will appear to the 
wild king that this bishop is the very man that he 
wants, the very opposite to himself and his wild 
riders ; a man pure, peaceable, just, and brave ; 
possessed, too, of boundless learning ; who can 
read, write, cipher, and cast nativities ; who has a 
whole room full of books and parchments, and 
a map of the whole world ; who can talk Latin, 
and perhaps Greek, as well as one of those ac- 


cursed man-eating Grendels, a Roman lawyer, or 
a logothete from Ravenna ; possessed, too, of 
boundless supernatural power ; Would the bishop 
be so good as to help him in his dispute with 
the Count Boso, about their respective marches 
in such and such a forest ? If the bishop could 
only settle that without more fighting, of course 
he should have his reward. He would confirm 
to the saint and his burg all the rights granted 
by Constantine the Kaiser ; and give him more 
over all the meadow land in such and such a 
place, with the mills and fisheries, on service of 
a dish of trout from the bishop and his successors, 
whenever he came that way : for the trout there 
were exceeding good, that he knew. And so a 
bargain would be struck, and one of those curious 
compromises between the spiritual and temporal 
authorities take root, of which one may read at 
length in the pages of M. Guizot, or Sir James 

And after a few years, most probably, the 
king would express a wish to be baptized, at the 
instance of his -queen who had been won over by 
the bishop, and had gone down into the font some 
years before ; and he would bid his riders be 
baptized also ; and they would obey, seeing that 
it could do them no harm, and might do them 
some good ; and they would agree to live more 
or less according to the laws of God and common 
humanity; and so one more Christian state would 


be formed ; one more living stone (as it was 
phrased in those days) built into the great temple 
of God which was called Christendom. 

So the work was done. Can we devise any 
better method of doing it ? If not, let us be 
content that it was done somehow, and believe 
that wisdom is justified of all her children. 

We may object to the fact, that the dorn- 
church and its organization grew up (as was the 
case in the vast majority of instances) round the 
body of a saint or martyr ; we may smile at the 
notion of an invisible owner and protector of the 
soil : but we must not overlook the broad fact, 
that without that prestige the barbarians would 
never have been awed into humanity ; without 
that prestige the place would have been swept 
off the face of the earth, till not one stone stood 
on another : and he who does not see what a 
disaster for humanity that would have been, must 
be ignorant that the civilization of Europe is the 
child of the towns ; and also that our Teutonic 
forefathers were by profession destroyers of towns, 
and settlers apart from each other on country free 
holds. Lonely barbarism would have been the 
fate of Europe, but for the monk who guarded the 
relics of the saint within the walled burg. 

This good work of the Church, in the preserva 
tion and even resuscitation of the municipal institu 
tions of the towns, has been discust so well and 
fully by M. Guizot, M. Sismondi, and Sir James 


Stephen, that I shall say no more about it, save to 
recommend you to read what they have written. 
I go on to point out to you some other very im 
portant facts, which my ideal sketch exemplifies. 

The difference between the Clergy and the 
Teuton conquerors was more than a difference of 
creed, or of civilization. It was an actual difference 
of race. They were Romans, to whom the Teuton 
was a savage, speaking a different tongue, obeying 
different laws, his whole theory of the universe dif 
ferent from the Roman. And he was, moreover, an 
enemy and a destroyer. The Teuton was to them 
as a Hindoo is to us, with the terrible exception, 
that the positions were reversed; that the Teuton 
was not the conquered, but the conqueror. It is 
easy for us to feel humanity and Christian charity 
toward races which we have mastered. It was not 
so easy for the Roman priest to feel them toward 
a race which had mastered him. His repugnance 
to the 'Barbarian' must have been at first intense. 
He never would have conquered it ; he never would 
have become the willing converter of the heathen, 
had there not been in him the Spirit of God, and 
firm belief in a Catholic Church, to which all men 
of all races ought alike to belong. This true and 
glorious idea, the only one which has ever been or 
ever will be able to break down the barriers of 
race, and the animal antipathy which the natural 
man has to all who are not of his own kin : this 
idea was the sole possession of the Roman clergy; 


and by it they conquered, because it was true, 
and came from God. 

But this very difference of race exposed the 
clergy to great temptations. They were the only 
civilized men left, west of Constantinople. They 
looked on the Teuton not as a man, but as a 
child; to be ruled; to be petted when he did 
right, punished when he did wrong; and too often 
cajoled into doing right, and avoiding wrong. 
Craft became more and more their usual weapon. 
There were great excuses for them. Their lives 
and property were in continual danger. Craft is 
the natural weapon of the weak against the strong. 
It seemed to them, too often, to be not only na 
tural, but spiritual also, and therefore just and 

Again, the clergy were the only organic rem 
nants of the Roman Empire. They claimed their 
privileges and lands as granted to them by past 
Roman Emperors, under the Roman law. This 
fact made it their interest, of course, to perpe 
tuate that Roman law, and to introduce it as far 
as they could among their conquerors, to the ex 
pulsion of the old Teutonic laws; and they suc 
ceeded on the whole. Of that more hereafter. 
Observe now, that as their rights dated from times 
which to the Teutons were pre-historic, their state 
ments could not be checked by conquerors who 
could not even read. Thence rose the temptation 
to forge ; to forge legends, charters, dotations, 


ecclesiastical history of all kinds an ugly and 
world-famous instance of which you will hear of 
hereafter. To that temptation they yielded more 
and more as the years rolled on, till their state- 
ments on ecclesiastical history became such as no 
historian can trust, without the most plentiful 
corrob oration. 

There were great excuses for them, in this 
matter, as in others. They could not but look on 
the Teuton as what in fact and law he was an 
unjust and intrusive usurper. They could not but 
look on their Roman congregations, and on them 
selves, as what in fact and law they were, the 
rightful owners of the soil. They were but defend 
ing or recovering their original rights. Would not 
the end justify the means ? 

But more. Out of this singular position grew 
a doctrine, which looks to us irrational now, but 
was by no means so then. If the Church derived 
her rights from the extinct Roman Caesars, how 
could the Teuton conquerors interfere with those 
rights? If she had owed allegiance to Constan- 
tine or Theodosius, she certainly owed none to 
Dietrich, Alboin, or Clovis. She did not hold 
their lands of them; and would pay them, if she 
could avoid it, neither tax nor toll. She did 
not recognize the sovereignty of these Teutons as 
' ordained by God/ 

Out of this simple political fact grew up vast 
consequences. The Teuton king was a heathen or 


Arian usurper. He was not a king de jure, in the 
eyes of the clergy, till he was baptized into the 
Church, and then lawfully anointed king by the 
clergy. Thus the clergy gradually became the 
makers of kings ; and the power of making in 
volved a corresponding power of unmaking, if the 
king rebelled against the Church, and so cut him 
self off from Christendom. At best, he was one of 
' the Princes of this world/ from whom the Church 
was free, absolutely in spiritual matters, and in 
temporal matters, also de jure, and therefore de 
facto as far as she could be made free. To keep 
the possessions of the Church from being touched 
by profane hands, even that they might contribute 
to the common needs of the nation, became a sa 
cred duty, a fixed idea, for which the clergy must 
struggle, anathematize, forge if need be : but also 
to do them justice die if need be as martyrs. 
The nations of this world were nothing to them. 
The wars of the nations were nothing. - They were 
the people of God, ' who dwelt alone, and were not 
reckoned among the nations ;' their possessions were 
the inheritance of God : and from this idea, growing 
(as I have shewn) out of a political fact, arose the 
extra-national, and too often anti-national position, 
which the Homan clergy held for many ages, and 
of which the instinct, at least, lingers among them 
in many countries. Out of it arose, too, all after 
struggles between the temporal and ecclesiastical 
powers. -Becket, fighting to the death against 


Henry II., was not, as M. Thierry thinks, the An 
glo-Saxon defying the Norman. He was the re 
presentative of the Christian Roman defying the 
Teuton, on the ground of rights which he believed 
to have existed while the Teuton was a heathen in 
the German forests. Gradually, as the nations of 
Europe became really nations, within fixed boun 
daries, and separate Christian organizations, these 
demands of the Church became intolerable in rea 
son, because unnecessary in fact. But had there 
not been in them at the first an instinct of right 
and justice, they would never have become the 
fixed idea of the clerical mind; the violation of 
them the one inexpiable sin; and the defence of 
them (as may be seen by looking through the 
Komish Calendar) the most potent qualification for 

Yes. The clergy believed that idea deeply 
enough to die for it. St Alphege at Canterbury 
had been, it is said, one of the first advisers of 
the ignominious payment of the Danegeld: but 
there was one thing which he would not do. 
He would advise the giving up of the money 
of the nation : but the money of his church he 
would not give up. The Danes might thrust him 
into a filthy dungeon : he would not take the 
children's bread and cast it unto the dogs. They 
might drag him out into their husting, and 
threaten him with torture: but to the drunken 
cry of 'Gold! Bishop! Gold! 7 his only answer 


would be Not a penny. He could not rob the 
poor of Christ. And when he fell, beaten to death 
with the bones and horns of the slaughtered oxen, 
he died in faith; a martyr to the great idea of 
that day, that the good of the Church did not be 
long to the conquerors of this world. 

But St Alphege was an Englishman, and not a 
Roman. True in the letter : but not in the spirit. 
The priest or monk, by becoming such, more or 
less renounced his nationality. It was the object 
of the Church to make him renounce it utterly; 
to make him regard himself no longer as English 
man, Frank, Lombard, or Goth : but as the repre 
sentative, by an hereditary descent, considered all 
the more real because it was spiritual and not carnal, 
of the Roman Church; to prevent his being en 
tangled, whether by marriage or otherwise, in the 
business of this life ; out of which would flow 
nepotism, Simony, and Erastian submission to those 
sovereigns who ought to be the servants, not the 
lords of the Church. For this end no means were 
too costly. St Dunstan, in order to expel the mar 
ried secular priests, and replace them by Benedic 
tine monks of the Italian order of Monte Casino, 
convulsed England, drove her into civil war, 
paralysed her monarchs one after the other, and 
finally left her exhausted and imbecile, a prey to 
the invading Northmen : but he had at least done 
his best to make the royal House of Cerdic, and 
the nations which obeyed that House, under- 



stand that the Church derived its rights not from 
them, but from Eome. 

This hereditary sense of superiority on the part 
of the clergy may explain and excuse much of 
their seeming flattery. The most vicious kings 
are lauded, if only they have been 'erga servos 
Dei benevoli ; ' if they have founded monasteries ; 
if they have respected the rights of the Church. 
The clergy too often looked on the secular princes 
as more or less wild beasts, of whom neither com 
mon decency, justice, or mercy was to be expected; 
and they had too often reason enough to do so. All 
that could be expected of the kings was, that if they 
would not regard man, they should at least fear 
God; which if they did, the proof of 'divine 
grace' on their part was so unexpected,, as well 
as important, that the monk chroniclers praised 
them heartily and honestly, judging them by 
what they had, not by what they had not. 

Thus alone can one explain such a case as that 
of the monastic opinion of Dagobert the Second, 
king of the Franks. We are told in the same 
narrative, seemingly without any great sense of 
incongruity, how he murdered his own relations 
and guests, and who not? how he massacred 
9000 Bulgars to whom he had given hospitality; 
how he kept a harem of three queens, and other 
women so numerous that Fredegarius cannot 
mention them; and also how, accompanied by 
his harem, he chanted among the monks of St 


Denis; bow he founded many rich convents; how 
he was the friend, or rather pupil, of St Arnulf 
of Metz, St Omer, and above all of St Eloi 
whose story I recommend you to read, charm 
ingly told, in Mr Maitland's 'Dark Ages,' pp. 
8 1 122. The three saints were no hypocrites 
God forbid ! They were good men and true, 
to whom had been entrusted the keeping of a 
wild beast, to be petted and praised whenever it 
shewed any signs of humanity or obedience. 

But woe to the prince, however useful or 
virtuous in other respects, who laid sacrilegious 
hands on the goods of the Church. He might, like 
Charles Martel, have delivered France from the 
Pagans on the east, and from the Mussulmen on the 
south, and have saved Christendom once and for 
all from the dominion of the Crescent, in that 
great battle oh the plains of Poitiers, where the 
Arab cavalry (says Isidore of Beja) broke against 
the immoveable line of Franks, like ( waves against 
a wall of ice/ 

But if, like Charles Martel, he had dared to 
demand of the Church taxes and contributions to 
ward the support of his troops, and the salvation 
both of Church and commonweal, then all his 
prowess was in vain. Some monk would surely 
see him in a vision, as St Eucherius, Bishop of 
Orleans, saw Charles Martel (according to the 
Council of Kiersy) 'with Cain, Judas, and Caia- 
phas, thrust into the Stygian whirlpools and 



Acherontic combustion of the sempiternal Tar 

Those words, which, with slight variations, are 
a common formula of cursing appended to monas 
tic charters against all who should infringe them, 
remind us rather of the sixth book of Virgil's 
^Eneid than of the Holy Scriptures ; and explain 
why Dante naturally chooses that poet as a guide 
through his Inferno. 

The cosmogony from which such an idea was 
derived was simple enough. I give, of course, 
no theological opinion on its correctness : but as 
professor of Modern History, I am bound to set 
before you opinions which had the most enormous 
influence on the history of early Europe. Unless 
you keep them in mind, as the fixed and absolute 
back-ground of all human thought and action for 
more than 1000 years, you will never be able to 
understand the doings of European men. 

This earth, then, or at least the habitable 
part of it, was considered as most probably a 
flat plane. Below that plane, or in the centre 
of the earth, was the realm of endless fire. It 
could be entered (as by the Welsh knight who 
went down into St Patrick's Purgatory) by cer 
tain caves. By listening at the craters of volcanoes, 
which were its mouths, the cries of the tortured 
might be heard in the depths of the earth. 

In that ' Tartarus' every human being born 
into the world was doomed to be endlessly burnt 


alive : only in the Church, ( extra quam nulla 
salus/ was there escape from the common doom. 
But to that doom, excommunication, which thrust 
a man from the pale of the Church, condemned 
the sinner afresh, with curses the most explicit 
and most horrible. 

The superior clergy, therefore, with whom the 
anathematizing power lay, believed firmly that 
they could, proprio motu, upon due cause shewn, 
cause any man or woman to be burned alive 
through endless ages. And what was more, the 
Teutonic laity, with that intense awe of the un 
seen which they had brought with them out of 
the wilderness, believed it likewise, and trembled. 
It paralysed the wisest, as well as the fiercest, 
that belief. Instead of disgusting the kings of 
the earth, it gave them over, bound hand and 
foot by their own guilty consciences, into the domi 
nion of the clergy; and the belief that Charles 
Martel was damned, only knit (as M. Sismondi 
well remarks) his descendants the Carlovingians 
more closely to the Church which possest so ter 
rible a weapon. 

"Whether they were right or wrong in these 
beliefs is a question not to be discussed in this 
chair. My duty is only to point put to you the uni 
versal existence of those beliefs, and the historic 
fact that they gave the clergy a character super 
natural, magical, divine, with a reserve of power 
before which all trembled, from the beggar to the 


king ; and also, that all struggles between the 
temporal and spiritual powers, like that between 
Henry and Becket, can only be seen justly in 
the light of the practical meaning of that excom 
munication which Becket so freely employed. I 
must also point out to you that so enormous 
a power (too great for the shoulders of mortal 
man) was certain to be, and actually was, fear 
fully abused, not only by its direct exercise, but 
also by bargaining with men, through indulgences 
and otherwise, for the remission of that punishment, 
which the clergy could, if they would, inflict ; and 
worst of all, that out of the whole theory sprang 
up that system of persecution, in which the worst 
cruelties of heathen Home were imitated by Christ 
ian priests, on the seemingly irrefragable ground 
that it was merciful to offenders to save them, 
or, if not, at least to save others through them, 
by making them feel for a few hours in this world 
what they would feel for endless ages in the 



HISTORIANS are often blamed for writing as if the 
History of Kings and Princes were the whole 
history of the world. 'Why do you tell us/ is said, 
' of nothing but the marriages, successions, wars, 
characters, of a few Royal Races? We want to 
know what the people, and not the princes, were 
like. History ought to be the history of the 
masses, and not of kings/ 

The only answer to this complaint seems to 
be, that the defect is unavoidable. The history of 
the masses cannot be written, while they have no 
history ; and none will they have, as long as they 
remain a mass; ere their history begins, indi 
viduals, few at first, and more and more numerous 
as they progress, must rise out of the mass, and 
become persons, with fixed ideas, determination, 
conscience, more or less different from their fel 
lows, and thereby leavening and elevating their 


fellows, that they too may become persons, and 
men indeed. Then they will begin to have a 
common history, issuing out of each man's strug 
gle to assert his own personality and his own 
convictions. Till that point is reached, the his 
tory of the masses will be mere statistic concerning 
their physical well-being or ill-being, which (for 
the early ages of our race) is unwritten, and there 
fore undiscoverable. 

The early history of the Teutonic race, there 
fore, is, and must always remain, simply the 
history of a few great figures. Of the many of 
the masses, nothing is said ; because there was 
nothing to say. They all ate, drank, married, 
tilled, fought, and died, not altogether brutally, 
we will hope, but still in a dull monotony, un 
broken by any struggle of principles or ideas. 
We know that large masses of human beings have 
so lived in every age, and are living so now the 
Tartar hordes, for instance, or the thriving negroes 
of central Africa : comfortable folk, getting a 
tolerable living, son after father, for many gene 
rations, but certainly not developed enough, or 
afflicted enough, to have any history. 

I believe that the masses, during the early 
middle age, were very well off; quite as well off 
as they deserved ; that is, earned for themselves. 
They lived in a rough way, certainly : but rough 
ness is not discomfort, where the taste has not 
been educated. A Red Indian sleeps as well in a 


wigwam as we in a spring bed; and the Irish 
babies thrive as well among the peat ashes as 
on a Brussels carpet. Man is a very well con 
structed being, and can live and multiply any 
where, provided he can keep warm, and get pure 
water and enough to eat. Indeed, our Teutonic 
fathers must have been comfortably off, or they 
could not have multiplied as they did. Even 
though their numbers may have been overstated, 
the fact is patent, that howsoever they were 
slaughtered down, by Romans or by each other, 
they rose again as out of the soil, more numerous 
than ever. Again and again you read of a tribe 
being all but exterminated by the Romans, and 
in a few years find it bursting over the Pfalzgrab 
or the Danube, more numerous and terrible than 
before. Never believe that a people deprest by 
cold, ill-feeding, and ill-training, could have con 
quered Europe in the face of centuries of destruc 
tive war. Those very wars, again, may have 
helped in the long run the increase of population, 
and for a reason simple enough, though often 
overlooked. War throws land out of cultivation ; 
and when peace returns, the new settlers find the 
land fallow, and more or less restored to its ori 
ginal fertility; and so begins a period of rapid 
and prosperous increase. In no other way can I 
explain the rate at which nations after the most 
desolating wars spring up, young and strong 
again, like the phoenix, from their own funeral 


pile. They begin afresh as the tillers of a virgin 
soil, fattened too often with the ashes of burnt 
homesteads, and the blood of the slain. 

Another element of comfort may have been 
the fact, that in the rough education of the forest, 
only the strong and healthy children lived, while 
the weakly died off young, and so the labour- 
market, as we should say now, was never over 
stocked. This is the case with our own gipsies, 
and with many savage tribes the Red Indians, 
for instance and accounts for their general health 
iness: the unhealthy being all dead, in the first 
struggle for existence. But then these gipsies, 
and the Red Indians, do not increase in num 
bers, but the contrary; while our forefathers in 
creased rapidly. On the other hand, we have, at 
least throughout the middle ages, accounts of 
such swarms of cripples, lepers, deformed, and 
other incapable persons, as to make some men 
believe that there were more of them, in pro 
portion to the population, than there are now. 
And it may have been so. The strongest and 
healthiest men always going off to be killed in 
war, the weakliest only would be left at home to 
breed ; and so an unhealthy population might 
spring up. And again and this is a curious fact 
as law and order enter a country, so will the 
proportion of incapables, in body and mind, in 
crease. In times of war and anarchy, when every 
one is shifting for himself, only the strongest and 


shrewdest can stand. Woe to those who cannot 
take care of themselves. The fools and cowards, 
the weakly and sickly, are killed, starved, neg 
lected, or in other ways brought to grief. But 
when law and order come, they protect those who 
cannot protect themselves, and the fools and cow 
ards, the weakly and sickly, are supported at the 
public expense, and allowed to increase and mul 
tiply as public burdens. I do not say that this 
is wrong, Heaven forbid ! I only state the fact. 
A government is quite right in defending all alike 
from the brute competition of nature, whose motto 
is Woe to the weak. To the Church of the 
middle age is due the preaching and the practice 
of the great Christian doctrine, that society is 
bound to protect the weak. So far the middle age 
saw : but no further. For our own times has been 
reserved the higher and deeper doctrine, that it 
is the duty of society to make the weak strong; 
to reform, to cure, and above all, to prevent by 
education, by sanitary science, by all and every 
means, the necessity of reforming and of curing. 

Science could not do that in the middle age. 
But if Science could not do it, Religion would 
at least try to do the next best thing to it. The 
monasteries were the refuges, whither the weak 
escaped from the competition of the strong. 
Thither flocked the poor, the crippled, the orphan, 
and the widow, all, in fact, who could not fight 
for themselves. There they found something like 


justice, order, pity, help. Even the fool and the 
coward, when they went to the convent-door, 
were not turned away. The poor half-witted 
rascal, who had not sense enough to serve the 
king, might still serve the abbot. He would be 
set to drive, plough, or hew wood possibly by 
the side of a gentleman, a nobleman, or even a 
prince and live under equal law with them ; and 
under, too, a discipline more strict than that of 
any modern army ; and if he would not hew the 
wood, or drive the bullocks, as he ought, then 
the abbot would have him flogged soundly till he 
did; which was better for him, after all, than 
w r andering about to be hooted by the boys, and 
dying in a ditch at last. 

The coward, too the abbot could make him of 
use, even though the king could not. There were, 
no doubt, in those days, though fewer in number 
than now, men who could not face physical danger, 
and the storm of the evil world, delicate, nervous, 
imaginative, feminine characters ; who, when sent 
out to battle, would be very likely to run away. 
Our forefathers, having no use for such persons, 
used to put such into a bog-hole, and lay a hurdle 
over them, in the belief that they would sink to the 
lowest pool of Hela for ever more. But the abbot 
had great use for such. They could learn to read, 
write, sing, think ; they were often very clever ; 
they might make great scholars ; at all events 
they might make saints. Whatever they could not 


do, they could pray. And the united prayer of 
those monks, it was then believed, could take 
heaven by storm, alter the course of the elements, 
overcome Divine justice, avert from mankind the 
anger of an offended God. Whether that belief 
were right or wrong, people held it ; and the 
man who could not fight with carnal weapons, 
regained his self-respect, and therefore his virtue, 
when he found himself fighting, as he held, with 
spiritual weapons against all the powers of dark 
ness 1 . The first light in which I wish you to 
look at the old monasteries, is as defences for 
the weak against the strong. 

But what has this to do with what I said 
at first, as to the masses having no history? 
This, that through these monasteries the masses 
began first to have a history ; because through 
them they ceased to be masses, and became first, 
persons and men, and then, gradually, a people. 
That last the monasteries could not make them : 
but they educated them for becoming a people ; 
and in this way. They brought out, in each man, 
the sense of individual responsibility. They taught 
him, whether warrior or cripple, prince or beggar, 
that he had an immortal soul, for which each 
must give like account to God. 

Do you not see the effect of that new thought ? 
Treated as slaves, as things and animals, the many 
had learnt to consider themselves as things and 

1 Cf. Mental embert, Moines d'Occident. 


animals. And so they had become 'a mass/ that 
is, a mere heap of inorganic units, each of which 
has no spring of life in itself, as distinguished 
from a whole, a people, which has one bond, 
uniting each to all. The ' masses' of the French 
had fallen into that state, before the Revolution 
of 1793. The 'masses' of our agricultural labour 
ers, the ' masses ' of our manufacturing work 
men, were fast falling into that state in the days 
of our grandfathers. Whether the French masses 
have risen out of it, remains to be seen. The 
English masses, thanks to Almighty God, have 
risen out of it ; and by the very same factor by 
which the middle-age masses rose by Religion. 
The great Methodist movement of the last cen 
tury did for our masses, what the monks did for 
our forefathers in the middle age. Wesley and 
Whitfield, and many another noble soul, said to 
Nailsea colliers, Cornish miners, and all manner 
of drunken brutalized fellows, living like the 
beasts that perish, "Each of you thou and 
thou and thou stand apart and alone before 
God. Each has an immortal soul in him, which 
will be happy or miserable for ever, according 
to the deeds done in the body. A whole eternity 
of shame or of glory lies in you and you are 
living like a beast." And in proportion as each 
man heard that word, and took it home to him 
self, he became a new man, and a true man. 
The preachers may have mixed up words with 


their message with which we may disagree, have 
appealed to low hopes and fears which we should 
be ashamed to bring into our calculations; so 
did the monks : but they got their work done 
somehow ; and let us thank them, and the old 
Methodists, and any man who will tell men, in 
whatever clumsy and rough fashion, that they 
are not things, and pieces of a mass, but persons, 
with an everlasting duty, an everlasting right and 
wrong, an everlasting God in whose presence they 
stand, and who will judge them according to their 
works. True, that is not all that men need to 
learn. After they are taught, each apart, that 
he is a man, they must be taught, how to be 
an united people : but the individual teaching 
must come first ; and before we hastily blame 
the individualizing tendencies of the old Evan 
gelical movement, or that of the middle-age 
monks, let us remember, that if they had not 
laid the foundation, others could not build thereon. 

Besides, they built themselves, as well as they 
could, on their own foundation. As soon as men 
begin to be really men, the desire of corporate 
life springs up in them. They must unite ; they 
must organize themselves. If they possess duties, 
they must be duties to their fellow-men; if they 
possess virtues and graces, they must mix with 
their fellow-men in order to exercise them. 

The solitaries of the Thebaid found that they 
became selfish wild beasts, or went mad, if they 


remained alone; and they formed themselves into 
lauras, ' lanes' of huts, convents, under a common 
abbot or father. The evangelical converts of the 
last century formed themselves into powerful and 
highly organized sects. The middle-age monas 
teries organized themselves into highly artificial 
communities round some sacred spot, generally 
under the supposed protection of some saint or 
martyr, whose bones lay there. Each method 
was good, though not the highest. None of them 
rises to the idea of a people, having one national 
life, under one monarch, the representative to each 
and all of that national life, and the dispenser and 
executor of its laws. Indeed, the artificial organi 
zation, whether monastic or sectarian, may become 
so strong as to interfere with national life, and 
make men forget their real duty to their king and 
country, in their self-imposed duty to the sect or 
order to which they belong. The monastic or 
ganization indeed had to die, in many countries, 
in order that national life might develop itself; 
and the dissolution of the monasteries marks the 
birth of an united and powerful England. They 
or Britain must have died. An imperium in 
imperio much more many separate imperia was 
an element of national weakness, which might be 
allowed in times of peace and safety, but not 
in times of convulsion and of danger. 

You may ask, however, how these monasteries 
became so powerful, if they were merely refuges 


for the weak ? Even if they were (and they were) 
the homes of an equal justice and order, mercy 
and beneficence, which had few or no standing- 
places outside their walls, still, how, if governed 
by weak men, could they survive in the great 
battle of life ? The sheep would have but a poor 
life of it, if they set up hurdles against the 
wolves, and agreed at all events not to eat each 

The answer is, that the monasteries were not 
altogether tenanted by incapables. The same 
causes which brought the low-born into the monas 
teries, brought the high-born, many of the very 
highest. The same cause which brought the weak 
into the monasteries, brought the strong, many of 
the very strongest. 

The middle- age records give us a long list of 
kings, princes, nobles, who having done (as they 
held) their work in the world outside, went into 
those convents to try their hands at what seemed 
to them (and often was) better work than the per 
petual coil of war, intrigue, and ambition, which 
was not the crime, but the necessary fate, of a 
ruler in the middle ages. Tired of work, and tired 
of life ; tired too, of vain luxury and vain wealth, 
they fled to the convent, as to the only place 
where a man could get a little peace, and think of 
God, and his own soul, and recollected, as they 
worked with their own hands by the side of the 
lowest-born of their subjects, that they had a 



human flesh and blood, a human immortal soul, 
like those whom they had ruled. Thank God 
that the great have other methods now of learning 
that great truth ; that the work of life, if but well 
done, will teach it to them : but those were hard 
times, and wild times; and fighting men could 
hardly learn, save in the convent, that there was a 
God above who watched the widows' and the 
orphans' tears, and when he made inquisition for 
blood, forgot not the cause of the poor. 

Such men and women of rank brought into 
the convent, meanwhile, all the prestige of their 
rank, all their superior knowledge of the world ; 
and became the patrons and protectors of the 
society; while they submitted, generally with pe 
culiar humility and devotion, to its most severe 
and degrading rules. Their higher sensibilities, 
instead of making them shrink from hardship, 
made them strong to endure self-sacrifices, and 
often self-tortures, which seem to us all but in 
credible ; and the lives, or rather living deaths, of 
the noble and princely penitents of the early 
middle age, are among the most beautiful tragedies 
of humanity. 

To these monasteries, too, came the men of the 
very highest intellect, of whatsoever class. I say, 
of the very highest intellect. Tolerably talented 
men might find it worth while to stay in the 
world, and use their wits in struggling upward 
there. The most talented of all would be the very 


men to see a better 'carriere ouverte aux talens' 
than the world could give ; to long for deeper 
and loftier meditation than could be found in the 
court ; for a more divine life, a more blessed 
death, than could be found in the camp and the 

And so it befals, that in the early middle age 
the cleverest men were generally inside the convent, 
trying, by moral influence and superior intellect, 
to keep those outside from tearing each other to 

But these intellects could not remain locked 
up in the monasteries. The daily routine of de 
votion, even of silent study and contemplation, 
was not sufficient for them, as it was for the 
average monk. There was still a reserve of force 
in them, which must be up and doing; and which, 
in a man inspired by that Spirit which is the 
Spirit of love to man as well as to God, must 
needs expand outwards in all directions, to Chris 
tianize, to civilize, to colonize. 

To colonize. When people talk loosely of 
founding an abbey for superstitious uses, they 
cannot surely be aware of the state of the countries 
in which those abbeys were founded ; either prim 
aeval forest, hardly-tilled common, or to be de 
scribed by that terrible epithet of Domesday-book, 
'wasta' wasted by war. A knowledge of that 
fact would lead them to guess that there were 
almost certainly uses for the abbey which had 



nothing to do with superstition ; which were as 
thoroughly practical as those of a company for 
draining the bog of Allen, or running a railroad 
through an American forest. Such, at least, was 
the case, at least for the first seven centuries after 
the fall of Rome; and to these missionary colo 
nizers Europe owes, I verily believe, among a 
hundred benefits, this, which all Englishmen will 
appreciate ; that Roman agriculture not only re 
vived in the countries which were once the Em 
pire, but spread from thence eastward and north 
ward, into the principal wilderness of the Teuton 
and Sclavonic races. 

I cannot, I think, shew you better what man 
ner of men these monk-colonizers were, and what 
sort of work they did, than by giving you the 
biography of one of them; and out of many I 
have chosen that of St Sturmi, founder whilome 
of the great abbey of Fulda, which lies on the 
central watershed of Germany, about equidistant, 
to speak roughly, from Frankfort, Cassel, Gotha, 
and Coburg. 

His life is matter of history, written by one 
Eigils (sainted like himself), who was his disciple 
and his friend. Naturally told it is, and lovingly ; 
but if I recollect right, without a single miracle 
or myth ; the living contemporaneous picture of 
such a man, living in such a state of society, as we 
shall never (and happily need never) see again, but 
which is for that very reason worthy to be pre- 


served, for a token thafc wisdom is justified of all 
her children. 

It stands at length in Pertz's admirable 'Monu- 
menta Historica/ among many another like bio 
graphy, and if I tell it here somewhat at length, 
readers must forgive me. 

Every one has heard of little king Pepin, and 
many may have heard also how he was a mighty 
man of valour, and cut off a lion's head at one 
blow; and how he was a crafty statesman, and 
first consolidated the temporal power of the Popes, 
and helped them in that detestable crime of over 
throwing the noble Lombard kingdom, which cost 
Italy centuries of slavery and shame, and which 
has to be expiated even yet, it would seem, by 
some fearful punishment. 

But every one may not know that Pepin had 
great excuses if not for helping to destroy the 
Lombards yet still for supporting the power of 
the Popes. It seemed to him and perhaps it 
was the only practical method of uniting the 
German tribes into one common people, and stop 
ping the internecine wars by which they were tear 
ing themselves to pieces. It seemed to him 
and perhaps it was the only practical method for 
civilizing and Christianizing the still wild tribes, 
Frisians, Saxons, and Sclaves, who pressed upon 
the German marches, from the mouth of the Elbe 
to the very Alps. Be that as it may, he began 
the work; and his son Charlemagne finished it; 


somewhat well, and again somewhat ill as most 
work, alas ! is done on earth. Now in the days 
of little king Pepin there was a nobleman of 
Bavaria, and his wife, who had a son called 
Sturmi ; and they brought him to St Boniface, 
that he might make him a priest. And the child 
loved St Boniface's noble English face, and went 
with him willingly, and was to him as a son. And 
who was St Boniface ? That is a long story. 
Suffice it that he was a man of Devon, brought up 
in a cloister at Exeter ; and that he had crossed 
over into Frankenland, upon the lower Rhine, 
and become a missionary of the widest and loftiest 
aims ; not merely a preacher and winner of souls, 
though that, it is said, in perfection ; but a civi- 
lizer, a colonizer, a statesman. He, and many 
another noble Englishman and Scot (whether 
Irish or Caledonian) were working under the 
Frank kings to convert the heathens of the 
marches, and carry the Cross into the far East. 
They led lives of poverty and danger ; they were 
martyred, half of them, as St Boniface was at last. 
But they did their work ; and doubtless they have 
their reward. They did their best, according to 
their light. God grant that we, to whom so much 
more light has been given, may do our best like 
wise. Under this great genius was young Sturmi 
trained. Trained (as was perhaps needed for those 
who had to do such work in such a time) to have 
neither wife, nor child, nor home, nor penny in 


his purse : but to do all that he was bid, learn all 
that he could, and work for his living with his 
own hands ; a life of bitter self-sacrifice. Such 
a life is not needed now. Possibly, nevertheless, 
it was needed then. 

So St Boniface took Sturmi about with him in 
his travels, and at last handed him over to Wig- 
bert, the priest, to prepare him for the ministry. 
' Under whom/ says his old chronicler, ' the boy 
began to know the Psalms thoroughly by heart; 
to understand the Holy Scriptures of Christ with 
spiritual sense; took care to learn most studiously 
the mysteries of the four Gospels, and to bury in 
his heart, by assiduous reading, the treasures of 
the Old and New Testament. For his meditation 
was in the Law of the Lord day and night ; pro 
found in understanding, shrewd of thought, pru 
dent of speech, fair of face, sober of carriage, 
honourable in morals, spotless in life, by sweet 
ness, humility, and alacrity, he drew to him the 
love of all/ 

He grew to be a man ; and in due time he was 
ordained priest, ' by the will and consent of all;' 
and he ' began to preach the words of Christ ear 
nestly to the people ;' and his preaching wrought 
wonders among them. 

Three years he preached in his Rhineland 
parish, winning love from all. But in the third 
year ' a heavenly thought ' came into his mind that 
he would turn hermit and dwell in the wild forest. 


And why? Who can tell ? He may, likely enough, 
have found celibacy a fearful temptation for a 
young and eloquent man, and longed to flee from 
the sight of that which must not be his. And 
that, in his circumstances, was not a foolish wish. 
He may have wished to escape, if but once, from 
the noise and crowd of outward things, and be 
alone with God and Christ, and his own soul. 
And that was not a foolish wish. John Bunyan 
so longed, and found what he wanted in Bedford 
Jail, and set it down and printed it in a Pilgrim's 
Progress, which will live as long as man is man. 
George Fox longed for it, and made himself clothes 
of leather which would not wear out, and lived in 
a hollow tree, till he, too, set down the fruit of his 
solitude in a diary which will live likewise as long 
as man is man. Perhaps, again, young Sturmi 
longed to try for once in a way what he was worth 
upon God's earth; how much he could endure; 
what power he had of helping himself, what 
courage to live by his own wits, and God's mercy, 
on roots and fruits, as wild things live. And 
surely that was not altogether a foolish wish. 
At least, he longed to be a hermit; but he kept 
his longing to himself, however, till St Boniface, 
his bishop, appeared; and then he told him all 
his heart. 

And St Boniface said: 'Go; in the name of 
God;' and gave him two comrades, and sent him 
into ' the wilderness which is called Buchonia, the 


Beech Forest, to find a place fit for the servants 
of the Lord to dwell in. For the Lord is able to 
provide his people a home in the desert/ 

So those three went into the wild forest. And 
'for three days they saw nought but earth and 
sky and mighty trees. And they went on, pray 
ing Christ that He would guide their feet into the 
way of peace. And on the third day they came 
to the place which is called Hersfelt (the hart's 
down ?), and searched it round, and prayed that 
Christ would bless the place for them to dwell in ; 
and then they built themselves little huts of beech- 
bark, and abode there many days, serving God 
with holy fastings, and watchings, and prayers.' 

Is it not a strange story? so utterly unlike any 
thing which we see now; so utterly unlike any 
thing which we ought to see now ? And yet it may 
have been good in its time. It looks out on us 
from the dim ages, like the fossil bone of some old 
monster cropping out of a quarry. But the old 
monster was good in his place and time. God 
made him and had need of him. It may be that 
God made those three poor monks, and had need 
of them, likewise. 

As for their purposes being superstitious, we 
shall be better able to judge of that when we have 
seen what they were what sort of a house they 
meant to build to God. As for their having self- 
interest in view, no doubt they thought that they 
should benefit their own souls in this life, and in 


the life to come. But one would hardly blame 
them for that, surely? One would not blame them 
as selfish and sordid if they had gone out on a 
commercial speculation? Why, then, if on a reli 
gious one? The merchant adventurer is often a 
noble type of man, and one to whom the world 
owes much, though his hands are not always clean, 
nor his eye single. The monk adventurer of the 
middle age is, perhaps, a still nobler type of man, 
and one to whom the world owes more, though 
his eye, too, was not always single, nor his hands 

As for selfishness, one must really bear in 
mind that men who walked away into that doleful 
'urwald' had need to pray very literally 'that 
Christ would guide their feet into the way of 
peace ; ' and must have cared as much for their 
worldly interests as those who march up to the 
cannon's mouth. Their lives in that forest were 
not worth twenty-four hours' purchase, and they 
knew it. It is an ugly thing for an unarmed 
man, without a compass, to traverse the bush of 
Australia or New Zealand, where there are no 
wild beasts. But it was uglier still to start out 
under the dark roof of that primaeval wood. 
Knights, when they rode it, went armed cap-a-pie, 
like Sintram through the dark valley, trusting 
in God and their good sword. Chapmen and 
merchants stole through it by a few tracks in 
great companies, armed with bill and bow. 


Peasants ventured into it a few miles, to cut 
timber, and find pannage for their swine, and 
whispered wild legends of the ugly things there 
in and sometimes, too, never came home. Away 
it stretched from the fair Bhineland, wave after 
wave of oak and alder, beech and pine, God 
alone knew how far, into the land of night and 
wonder, and the infinite unknown ; full of elk 
and bison, bear and wolf, lynx and glutton, and 
perhaps of worse beasts still. Worse beasts, cer 
tainly, Sturmi and his comrades would have met, 
if they had met them in human form. For there 
were waifs and strays of barbarism there, uglier 
far than any waif and stray of civilization, border 
ruffian of the far west, buccaneer of the Tropic 
keys, Cimaroon of the Panama forests ; men 
verbiesterte, turned into the likeness of beasts, 
wildfanger, htiner, ogres, wehr-wolves, strong 
thieves and outlaws, many of them possibly mere 
brutal maniacs ; naked, living in caves and 
coverts, knowing no law but their own hunger, 
rage, and lust ; feeding often on human flesh ; 
and woe to the woman or child or unarmed man 
who fell into their ruthless clutch. Orson, and 
such like human brutes of the wilderness, serve 
now to amuse children in fairy tales ; they were 
then ugly facts of flesh and blood. There were 
heathens there, too, in small colonies : heathen 
Saxons, cruelest of all the tribes ; who worshipped 
at the Irmensul, and had an old blood-feud against 


the Franks ; heathen Thuringer, who had mur 
dered St Kilian the Irishman at Wurzburg ; 
heathen Slavs, of different tribes, who had in 
troduced into Europe the custom of impaling 
their captives : and woe to the Christian priest 
who fell into any of their hands. To be knocked 
on the head before some ugly idol was the gen 
tlest death which they were like to have. They 
would have called that martyrdom, and the gate 
of eternal bliss ; but they were none the less 
brave men for going out to face it. 

And beside all these, and worse than all these, 
there were the terrors of the unseen world ; very 
real in those poor monks' eyes, though not in 
ours. There were Nixes in the streams, and 
Kobolds in the caves, and Tannerhauser in the 
dark pine-glades, who hated the Christian man, 
and would lure him to his death. There were 
fair swan-maidens and elf-maidens ; nay, dame 
Venus herself, and Herodias the dancer, with all 
their rout of revellers; who would tempt him 
to sin, and having made him sell his soul, de 
stroy both body and soul in hell. There was 
Satan and all the devils, too, plotting to stop 
the Christian man from building the house of 
the Lord, and preaching the gospel to the hea 
then ; ready to call up storms, and floods, and 
forest fires ; to hurl the crag down from the cliffs, 
or drop the rotting tree on their defenceless 
heads all real and terrible in those poor monks' 


eyes, as they walked on, singing their psalms, 
and reading their Gospels, and praying to God 
to save them, for they could not save themselves ; 
and to guide them, for they knew not, like Abra 
ham, whither they went ; and to show them the 
place where they should build the house of the 
Lord, and preach righteousness, peace, and joy 
in the Holy Spirit to the heathen round. We 
talk still, thank heaven, of heroes, and understand 
what that great word should mean. But were 
not these poor monks heroes ? Knights-errant of 
God, doing his work as they best knew how. We 
have a purer gospel than they: we understand 
our Bibles better. But if they had not done 
what they did, where would have been now our 
gospel, and our Bible ? We cannot tell. It was 
a wise old saw of our forefathers ' Do not speak 
ill of the bridge which carries you over.' 

If Sturmi had had a 'holy longing' to get 
into the wild wood, now he had a ' holy longing ' 
to go back ; and to find St Boniface, and tell him 
what a pleasant place Hersfelt was, and the 
quality of the soil, and the direction of the water 
shed, and the meadows, and springs, and so forth, 
in a very practical way. And St Boniface an 
swered, that the place seemed good enough ; but 
that he was afraid for them, on account of the 
savage heathen Saxons. They must go deeper 
into the forest, and then they would be safe. So 
he went back to his fellow-hermits, and they made 


to themselves a canoe ; and went paddling up and 
down the Fulda stream, beneath the alder boughs, 
' trying the mouths of the mountain-streams, and 
landing to survey the hills and ridges/ pioneers 
of civilization none the less because they pioneered 
in the name of Him who made earth and heaven : 
but they found nothing which they thought would 
suit the blessed St Boniface, save that they 
stayed a little at the place which is called Ruo- 
hen-bah, 'the rough brook/ to see if it would 
suit; but it would not. So they went back to 
their birch huts to fast and pray once more. 

St Boniface sent for Sturmi after awhile, 
probably to Maintz, to ask of his success ; and 
Sturmi threw himself on his face before him ; 
and Boniface raised him up, and kissed him, 
and made him sit by his side which was a 
mighty honour ; for St Boniface, the penniless 
monk, was at that moment one of the most 
powerful men of Europe ; and he gave Sturmi 
a good dinner, of which, no doubt, he stood in 
need ; and bade him keep up heart, and seek 
again for the place which God had surely pre 
pared, and would reveal in His good time. 

And this time Sturmi, possibly wiser from 
experience, determined to go alone ; but not on 
foot. So he took to him a trusty ass, and as 
much food as he could pack on it ; and, axe in 
hand, rode away into the wild wood, singing 
his psalms. And every night, before he lay 


down to sleep, he cut boughs, and stuck them 
up for a ring fence round him and the ass, to 
the discomfiture of the wolves, which had, and 
have still, a great hankering after asses' flesh. 
It is a quaint picture, no doubt; but let us respect 
it, while we smile at it ; if we, too, be brave men. 

Then one day he fell into a great peril. He 
came to the old road (a Homan one, I presume, for 
the Teutons, whether in England or elsewhere, 
never dreamed of making roads till three hundred 
years ago, but used the old Roman ones), which 
led out of the Thuringen land to Maintz. And 
at the ford over the Fulda he met a great multi 
tude bathing, of Sclavonian heathens, going to the 
fair at Maintz. And they smelt so strong, the 
foul miscreants, that Sturmi's donkey backed, and 
refused to face them; and Sturmi himself was 
much of the donkey's mind, for they began to mock 
him (possibly he nearly went over the donkey's 
head), and went about to hurt him. 'But,' says 
the chronicler, ' the power of the Lord held them 

Then he went on, right thankful at having 
escaped with his life, up and down, round and 
round, exploring and surveying for what purpose 
we shall see hereafter. And at last he lost him 
self in the place which is called Aihen-loh, ' the 
glade of oaks;' and at night- fall he heard the 
plash of water, and knew not whether man or wild 
beast made it. And not daring to call out, he 


tapped a tree-trunk with his axe (some backwoods 
man's sign of those days, we may presume), and 
he was answered. And a forester came to him, 
leading his lord's horse; a man from the Wetterau, 
who knew the woods far and wide, and told him 
all that he wanted to know. And they slept side 
by side that night ; and in the morning they blest 
each other, and each went his way. 

Yes, there were not merely kings and wars, 
popes and councils, in those old days ; there 
were real human beings, just such as we might 
meet by the wayside any hour, with human hearts 
and histories within them. And we will be thank 
ful if but one of them, now and then, starts up 
out of the darkness of twelve hundred years, like 
that good forester, and looks at us with human 
eyes, and goes his way again, blessing, and not 

And now Sturmi knew all that he needed to 
know; and after awhile, following the counsel of 
the forester, he came to 'the blessed place, long ago 
prepared of the Lord. And when he saw it, he 
was filled with immense joy, and went on exulting; 
for he felt that by the merits and prayers of the 
holy Bishop Boniface that place had been revealed 
to him. And he went about it, and about it, half 
the day; and the more he looked on it the more 
he gave God thanks; 7 and those who know Fulda 
say, that Sturmi had reason to give God thanks, 
and must have had a keen eye, moreover, for that 


which man needs for wealth and prosperity, in 
soil and water, meadow and wood. So he blessed 
the place, and signed it with the sign of the Cross 
(in token that it belonged thenceforth neither to 
devils nor fairies, but to his rightful Lord and 
Maker), and went back to his cell, and thence a 
weary journey to St Boniface, to tell him of the 
fair place which he had found at last. 

And St Boniface went his weary way, either to 
Paris or to Aix, to Pepin and Carloman, kings of 
the Franks; and begged of them a grant of the 
Aihen-loh, and all the land for four miles round, 
and had it. And the nobles about gave up to 
him their rights of venison, and vert, and pas 
ture, and pannage of swine; and Sturmi and 
seven brethren set out thither, 'in the year of 
our Lord 744, in the first month (April, presum 
ably), in the twelfth day of the month, unto the 
place prepared of the Lord/ that they might do 
what ? 

That they might build an abbey. Yes ; but the 
question is, what building an abbey meant, not 
three hundred, nor five hundred, but eleven hun 
dred years ago for centuries are long matters, 
and men and their works change in them. 

And then it meant this: Clearing the back 
woods for a Christian settlement; an industrial 
colony, in which every man was expected to spend 
his life in doing good all and every good which 
he could for his fellow-men. Whatever talent he 



had he threw into the common stock; and worked, 
as he was found fit to work, at farming, gardening, 
carpentering, writing, doctoring, teaching in the 
schools, or preaching to the heathen round. In 
their common church they met to worship God; 
but also to ask for grace and strength to do their 
work, as Christianizers and civilizers of mankind. 
What Christianity and civilization they knew (and 
they knew more than we are apt now to believe) 
they taught it freely; and therefore they were 
loved, and looked up to as superior beings, as mo 
dern missionaries, wherever they do their work 
even decently well, are looked up to now. 

So because the work could be done in that 
way, and (as far as men then, or now, can see) in 
no other way, Pepin and Carloman gave Boniface 
the glade of oaks, that they might clear the virgin 
forest, and extend cultivation, and win fresh souls 
to Christ, instead of fighting, like the kings of this 
world, for the land which was already cleared, and 
the people who were already Christian. 

In two months' time they had cut down much 
of the forest; and then came St Boniface himself 
to see them, and with him a great company of 
workmen, and chose a place for a church. And 
St Boniface went up to the hill which is yet called 
Bishop's Mount, that he might read his Bible in 
peace, away from kings and courts, and the noise 
of the wicked world ; and his workmen felled trees 
innumerable, and dug peat to burn lime withal; 


and then all went back again, and left the settlers 
to thrive and work. 

And thrive and work they did, clearing more 
land, building their church, ploughing up their 
farm, drawing to them more and more heathen 
converts, more and more heathen school-children; 
and St Boniface came to see them from time to 
time, whenever he could get a holiday, and spent 
happy days in prayer and study, with his pupil 
and friend. And ten years after, when St Boni 
face was martyred at last by the Friesland hea 
thens, and died, as he had lived, like an apostle of 
God, then all the folk of Maintz wanted to bring 
his corpse home to their town, because he had been 
Archbishop there. But he ' appeared in a dream 
to a certain deacon, and said: " Why delay ye to 
take me home to Fulda, to my rest in the wil 
derness which God hath prepared for me?" 

So St Boniface sleeps at Fulda, unless the 
French Republican armies dug up his bones, and 
scattered them, as they scattered holier things, to 
the winds of heaven. And all men came to wor 
ship at his tomb, after the fashion of those days. 
And Fulda became a noble abbey, with its dom- 
church, library, schools, workshops, farm-steads, 
almshouses, and all the appanages of such a place, 
in the days when monks were monks indeed. And 
Sturmi became a great man, and went through 
many troubles and slanders, and conquered in them 
all, because there was no fault found in him, as in 



Daniel of old ; and died in a good old age, bewept 
by thousands, who, but for him, would have been 
heathens still. And the Aihen-loh became rich 
corn-land and garden, and Fulda an abbey borough 
and a principality, where men lived in peace under 
mild rule, while the feudal princes quarrelled and 
fought outside ; and a great literary centre, whose 
old records are now precious to the diggers among 
the bones of bygone times ; and at last St Sturmi 
and the Aihen-loh had so developed themselves, 
that the latest record of the Abbots of Fulda which 
I have seen is this, bearing date about 1710: 

'The arms of the most illustrious Lord and 
Prince, Abbot of Fulda, Arch chancellor of the 
most Serene Empress, Primate of all Germany and 
Gaul, and Prince of the Holy Eoman Empire.' 
Developed, certainly: and not altogether in the 
right direction. For instead of the small beer, 
which they had promised St Boniface to drink to 
the end of the world, the abbots of Fulda had the 
best wine in Germany, and the best table too. 
Be that as it may, to have cleared the timber off 
the Aihen-loh, and planted a Christian colony 
instead, was enough to make St Sturmi hope that 
he had not read his Bible altogether in vain. 

Surely such men as St Sturmi were children 
of wisdom, put what sense on the word you will. 
In a dark, confused, lawless, cut-throat age, while 
everything was decided by the sword, they found 
that they could do no good to themselves, or 


any man, by throwing their swords into either 
scale. They would be men of peace, and see what 
could be done so. Was not that wise ? So 
they set to work. They feared God exceedingly, 
and walked with God. Was not that wise ? 
They wrought righteousness, and were merciful 
and kind, while kings and nobles were murder 
ing around them ; pure and temperate, while other 
men were lustful and drunken ; just and equal 
in all their ways, while other men were unjust 
and capricious ; serving God faithfully, accord 
ing to their light, while the people round them 
were half or wholly heathen; content to do 
their work well on earth, and look for their reward 
in heaven, while the kings and nobles, the holders 
of the land, were full of insane ambition, every 
man trying to seize a scrap of ground from his 
neighbour, as if that would make them happier. 
Was that not wise ? Which was the wiser, the 
chief killing human beings, to take from them 
some few square miles which men had brought 
into cultivation already, or the monk, leaving the 
cultivated land, and going out into the back 
woods to clear the forest, and till the virgin soil ? 
Which was the child of wisdom, I ask' again ? 
And do not tell me that the old monk worked only 
for fanatical and superstitious ends. It is not so. 
I know well his fanaticism and his superstition, 
and the depths of its ignorance and silliness : but 
he had more in him than that. Had he not, he 


would have worked no lasting work. He was not 
only the pioneer of civilization, but he knew that 
he was such. He believed that all knowledge 
came from God, even that which taught a 
man to clear the forest, and plant corn instead ; 
and he determined to spread such knowledge as 
he had wherever he could. He was a wiser man 
than the heathen Saxons, even than the Christian 
Franks, around him ; a better scholar, a better 
thinker, better handicraftsman, better farmer; and 
he did not keep his knowledge to himself. He 
did not, as some tell you, keep the Bible to him 
self. It is not so; and those who say so, in this 
generation, ought to be ashamed of themselves. 
The monk knew his Bible well himself, and he 
taught it. Those who learnt from him to read, 
learnt to read their Bibles. Those who did not 
learn (of course the vast majority, in days when 
there was no printing), he taught by sermons, 
by pictures, afterward by mystery and miracle 
plays. The Bible was not forbidden to the laity 
till centuries afterwards and forbidden then, 
why ? Because the laity throughout Europe knew 
too much about the Bible, and not too little. Be 
cause the early monks had so ingrained the mind 
of the masses, throughout Christendom, with 
Bible stories,. Bible personages, the great facts, 
and the great doctrines, of our Lord's life, that 
the masses knew too much ; that they could con 
trast too easily, and too freely, the fallen and 


profligate monks of the I5th and i6th centuries, 
with those Bible examples, which the old monks 
of centuries before had taught their forefathers. 
Then the clergy tried to keep from the laity, be 
cause it testified against themselves, the very book 
which centuries before they had taught them to 
love and know too well. In a word, the old 
monk missionary taught all he knew to all who 
would learn, just as our best modern missionaries 
do; and was loved, and obeyed, and looked on as 
a superior being, as they are. 

Of course he did not know how far civilization 
would extend. He could not foretell railroads 
and electric telegraphs, any more than he could 
political economy, or sanitary science. But the 
best that he knew, he taught and did also, 
working with his own hands. He was faithful 
in a few things, and God made him ruler over 
many things. For out of those monasteries sprang 
what did not spring ? They restored again 
and again sound law and just government, when 
the good old Teutonic laws, and the Roman law 
also, was trampled underfoot amid the lawless 
strife of ambition and fury. Under their shadow 
sprang up the towns with their corporate rights, 
their middle classes, their artizan classes. They 
were the physicians, the almsgivers, the relieving 
officers, the schoolmasters of the middle-age world. 
They first taught us the great principle of the 
division of labour, to which we owe, at this mo- 


ment, that England is what she is, instead of 
being covered with a horde of peasants, each 
making and producing everything for himself, and 
starving each upon his rood of ground. They 
transcribed or composed all the books of the 
then world ; many of them spent their lives in 
doing nothing but writing; and the number of 
books, even of those to be found in single monas 
teries, considering the tedious labour of copying, 
is altogether astonishing. They preserved to us 
the treasures of classical antiquity. They disco 
vered for us the germs of all our modern in 
ventions. They brought in from abroad arts 
and new knowledge ; and while they taught men 
to know that they had a common humanity, 
a common Father in heaven taught them also 
to profit by each other's wisdom instead of re 
maining in isolated ignorance. They, too, were 
the great witnesses against feudal caste. With 
them was neither high-born nor low-born, rich 
nor poor : worth was their only test ; the mean 
est serf entering there might become the lord 
of knights and vassals, the counsellor of kings 
and princes. Men may talk of democracy those 
old monasteries were the most democratic insti 
tutions the world had ever till then seen. ' A 
man's a man for a' that,' was not only talked of 
in them, but carried out in practice only not in 
anarchy, and as a cloak for licentiousness : but under 
those safeguards of strict discipline, and almost 


military order, without which men may call them 
selves free, and yet be really only slaves to their 
own passions. Yes, paradoxical as it may seem, 
in those monasteries was preserved the sacred 
fire of modern liberty, through those feudal cen 
turies when all the outside world was doing its 
best to trample it out. Remember, as a single 
instance, that in the Abbot's lodgings at Bury 
St Edmunds, the Magna Charta was drawn out, 
before being presented to John at Runymede. 
I know what they became afterwards, better than 
most do here; too well to defile my lips, or your 
ears, with tales too true. They had done their 
wort, and they went. Like all things born in 
time, they died; and decayed in time; and the 
old order changed, giving place to the new ; 
and God fulfilled himself in many ways. But 
in them, too, he fulfilled himself. They were the 
best things the world had seen ; the only method 
of Christianizing and civilizing semi-barbarous 
Europe. Like all human plans and conceptions, 
they contained in themselves original sin; idolatry, 
celibacy, inhuman fanaticism; these were their 
three roots of bitterness ; and when they bore the 
natural fruit of immorality, the monasteries fell 
with a great and just destruction. But had not 
those monasteries been good at first, and noble at 
first; had not the men in them been better and 
more useful men than the men outside, do you 
think they would have endured for centuries ? They 


would not even have established themselves at 
all. They would soon, in those stormy times, have 
been swept off the face of the earth. Ill used they 
often were, plundered and burnt down. But men 
found that they were good. Their own plunderers 
found that they could not do without them ; and 
repented, and humbled themselves, and built them 
up again, to be centres of justice and mercy and 
peace, amid the wild weltering sea of war and 
misery. For all things endure, even for a genera 
tion, only by virtue of the good which is in them. 
By the Spirit of God in them they live, as do 
all created things; and when he taketh away their 
breath they die, and return again to their dust. 

And what was the original sin of them ? We 
can hardly say that it was their superstitious and 
partially false creed : because that they held in 
common with all Europe. It was rather that 
they had identified themselves with, and tried to 
realize on earth, one of the worst falsehoods of 
that creed celibacy. Not being founded on 
the true and only ground of all society, family 
life, they were merely artificial and self-willed 
arrangements of man's invention, which could not 
develop to any higher form. And when the sanc 
tity of marriage was revindicated at the Reform 
ation, the monasteries, having identified themselves 
with celibacy, naturally fell. They could not par 
take in the Reformation movement, and rise 
with it into some higher form of life, as the 


laity outside did. I say, they were altogether 
artificial things. The Abbot might be called the 
Abba, Father, of his monks : but he was not 
their father just as when young ladies now play 
at being nuns, they call their superior, Mother : 
but all the calling in the world will not make that 
sacred name a fact and a reality, as they too 
often find out. 

And celibacy brought serious evils from the 
first. It induced an excited, hysterical tone of 
mind, which is most remarkable in the best men ; 
violent, querulous, suspicious, irritable, credulous, 
visionary; at best more womanly than manly; 
alternately in tears and in raptures. You never 
get in their writings anything of that manly 
calmness, which we so deservedly honour, and at 
which we all aim for ourselves. They are bom 
bastic; excited; perpetually mistaking virulence 
for strength, putting us in mind for ever of the 
allocutions of the Popes. Read the writings of 
one of the best of monks, and of men, who ever 
lived, the great St Bernard, and you will be 
painfully struck by this hysterical element. The 
fact is, that their rule of life, from the earliest 
to the latest, from that of St Benedict of Casino, 
' father of all monks,' to that of Loyola the Jesuit, 
was pitched not too low, but too high. It was 
an ideal which, for good or for evil, could only 
be carried out by new converts, by people in a 
state of high religious excitement, and therefore 


the history of the monastic orders is just that of 
the protestant sects. We hear of continual fallings 
off from their first purity; of continual excitements, 
revivals, and startings of new orders, which hoped 
to realize the perfection which the old orders 
could not. You must bear this in mind, as you 
read mediaeval history. You will be puzzled to 
know why continual new rules and new orders 
sprung up. They were so many revivals, so many 
purist attempts at new sects. You will see this 
very clearly in the three great revivals which 
exercised such enormous influence on the history 
of the 1 3 th, the i6th and the i/th centuries, 
I mean the rise first of the Franciscans and 
Dominicans, next of the Jesuits, and lastly of 
the Port Royalists. They each professed to re 
store monachism to what it had been at first; 
to realize the unnatural and impossible ideal. 

Another serious fault of these monasteries 
may be traced to their artificial celibate system. 
I mean their avarice. Only one generation after 
St Sturmi, Charlemagne had to make indignant 
laws against Abbots who tried to get into their 
hands the property of everybody around them: 
but in vain. The Abbots became more and more 
the great landholders, till their power was in 
tolerable. The reasons are simple enough. An 
abbey had no children between whom to divide 
its wealth, and therefore more land was always 
flowing in and concentrating, and never break- 


ing up again ; while almost every A^bbot left his 
personalities, all his private savings and purchases, 
to his successor. 

Then again, in an unhappy hour, they dis 
covered that the easiest way of getting rich was 
by persuading sinners, and weak persons, to secure 
the safety of their souls by leaving land to the 
Church, in return for the prayers and masses of 
monks ; and that shameful mine of wealth was 
worked by them for centuries, in spite of statutes 
of mortmain, and other checks which the civil 
power laid on them, very often by most de 
testable means. One is shocked to find good 
men lending themselves to such base tricks: but 
we must recollect, that there has always been 
among men a public and a private conscience, 
and that these two, alas ! have generally been 
very different. It is an old saying, that 'com 
mittees have no consciences;' and it is too .true. 
A body of men acting in concert for a public 
purpose will do things which they would shrink 
from with disgust, if the same trick would merely 
put money into their private purses; and this 
is too often the case when the public object is a 
good one. Then the end seems to sanctify the 
means, to almost any amount of chicanery. 

So it was with those old monks. An abbey 
had no conscience. An order of monks had no 
conscience. A Benedictine, a Dominican, a Fran 
ciscan, who had not himself a penny in the world, 


and never intended to have one, would play tricks, 
lie, cheat, slander, forge, for the honour and the 
wealth of his order ; when for himself, and in 
himself, he may have been an honest God-fearing 
man enough. So it was ; one more ugly fruit of 
an unnatural attemjDt to be not good men, but 
something more than men ; by trying to be more 
than men, they ended by being less than men. 
That was their sin, and that sin, when it had con 
ceived, brought forth death. 



I HAVE tried to shew you how the Teutonic na 
tions were Christianized. I have tried to explain 
to you why the clergy who converted them were, 
nevertheless, more or less permanently antago 
nistic to them. I shall have, hereafter, to tell 
you something of one of the most famous in 
stances of that antagonism : of the destruction 


of the liberties of the Lombards by that Latin 
clergy. But at first you ought to know some 
thing of the manners of these Lombards ; and that 
you may learn best by studying their Code. 

They are valuable to you, as giving you a fair 
specimen of the laws of an old Teutonic people. 
You may profitably compare them with the old 
Gothic, Franco-Salic, Burgundian, Anglo-Saxon, 
and Scandinavian laws, all formed on the same 
primaeval model, agreeing often in minute details, 
and betokening one primaeval origin, of awful 
antiquity. By studying them, moreover, you may 


gain some notion of that primaeval liberty and 
self-government, common at first to all the race, 
but preserved alone by England; to which the 
descendants of these very Lombards are at this 
very moment so manfully working their way back. 

These laws were collected and published in 
writing by king Rothar, A. D. 643, 76 years after 
Alboin came into Italy. The cause, he says, was 
the continual wearying of the poor, and the super 
fluous exactions, and even violence, of the strong 
against those who were weak. They are the 
' laws of our fathers, as far as we have learnt 
them from ancient men, and are published with 
the counsel and consent of our princes, judges, 
and all our most prosperous army/ i.e. the barons, 
or freemen capable of bearing arms; 'and are con 
firmed according to the custom of our nation by 
garathinx/ that is, as far as I can ascertain from 
Grimm's German Law, by giving an earnest, garant, 
or warrant of the bargain. 

Among these Lombards, as among our English 
forefathers, when a man thingavit, i.e. donavit, a 
gift or bequest to any one, it was necessary, 
according to law CLXXIL, to do it before gisiles, 
witnesses, and to give a garathinx, or earnest, of 
his bequest a halm of straw, a turf, a cup of 
drink, a piece of money as to this day a drover 
seals his bargain with a shilling, and a commer 
cial traveller with a glass of liquor. Whether 
Rotha gave the garathinx to his barons, or his 


barons to him, I do not understand: but at least 
it is clear from the use of this one word that the 
publication of these laws was a ' social contract' 
a distinct compact between king and people. 
From all which you will perceive at once that 
these Lombards, like all Teutons, were a free 
people, under a rough kind of constitutional mo 
narchy. They would have greeted with laughter 
the modern fable of the divine right of kings, if by 
that they were expected to understand that the 
will of the king was law, or that the eldest son 
of a certain family had any God-given ipso-facto 
right to succeed his father. Sixteen kings, says 
the preface, had reigned from Agilmund to 
Kothar; and seven times had the royal race been 
changed. That the king should belong to one 
of the families who derived their pedigree from 
Wodin, and that a son should, as natural, suc 
ceed his father, were old rules: but the barons 
would, as all history shews, make little of crown 
ing a younger son instead of an elder, if the 
younger were a hero, and the elder an ' arga' 
a lazy loon ; and little, also, would they make 
of setting aside the whole royal family, and crown 
ing the man who would do their business best. 
The king was, as this preface and these laws 
shew, the commander in chief of the exercitus, 
the militia, and therefore of every free man in 
the state; (for all were bound to fight when 
required). He was also the supreme judge, the 



head of the executive, dispenser and fountain of 
law : but with no more power of making the law, 
of breaking the law, or of arbitrarily depriving a 
man of his property, than an English sovereign 
has now; and his power was quamdiu se bene 
gesserit, and no longer, as history proves in every 

The doctrine of the divine right of kings, as 
understood in England in the seventeenth century, 
and still in some continental countries, was, as 
far as I can ascertain, invented by the early popes, 
not for the purpose of exalting the kings, but of 
enslaving them, and through them the nations. 
A king and his son's sons had divine ' right to 
govern wrong ' not from God, but from the vicar 
of God and the successor of St Peter, to whom 
God had given the dominion of the whole 
earth, and who had the right to anoint, or to 
depose, whomsoever he would. Even in these 
old laws, we see that new idea obtruding it 
self. 'The king's heart/ says one of them, 'is 
in the hand of God.' That is a text of Scrip 
ture. What it was meant to mean, one cannot 
doubt, or by whom it was inserted. The ' Chan 
cellor/ or whoever else transcribed those laws in 
Latin, was, of course, a cleric, priest or monk. 
From his hand comes the first hint of arbitrary 
power ; the first small blot of a long dark stain 
of absolutism, which was to darken and deepen 
through centuries of tyranny and shame. 


But to plead the divine right of kings, in a 
country which has thrown off its allegiance to 
the pope, is to assert the conclusion of a syllo 
gism, the major and minor premiss of which are 
both denied by the assertor. The arguments for 
such a right drawn from the Old Testament, 
which were common among the high-church party 
from James I. to James II. and the Nonjurors, 
are really too inconsequent to require more than 
a passing smile. How can you prove that a king 
has the power to make laws, from the history 
of the Jewish nation, when that very history re 
presents it all through as bound by a primaeval 
and divinely revealed law, to which kings and 
people were alike subject ? How can you prove 
that the eldest son's eldest son has a divine 
right to wear the crown as ' God's anointed/ 
when the very persons to whom that title is 
given are generally either not eldest sons, or not 
of royal race at all ? The rule that the eldest 
son's eldest son should succeed, has been proved 
by experience to be in practice a most excellent 
one : but it rests, as in England, so in Lombardy, 
or Spain, or Frankreich of old time, simply upon 
the consent of the barons, and the will of the 
thing or parliament. 

There is a sentimental admiration of ' Impe 
rialism' growing up now-a-days, under the pre 
tentious titles of ' hero-worship,' and 'strong 
government;' and the British constitution is 

18 2 


represented as a clumsy and artificial arrange 
ment of the year 1688. 1688 after Christ ? 1688 
before Christ would be nearer the mark. It 
is as old, in its essentials, as the time when 
not only all the Teutons formed one tribe, 
but when Teutons and Scandinavians were still 
united and when that was, who dare say ? We 
at least brought the British constitution with us 
out of the bogs and moors of Jutland, along with 
our smock-frocks and leather gaiters, brown bills 
and stone axes ; and it has done us good service, 
and will do, till we have carried it right round the 

As for these Lombard kings, they arose on this 
wise. After Alboin's death the Lombards were 
for ten years under dukes, and evil times came, 
every man doing what was right in his own eyes; 
enlarging their frontier by killing the Roman land 
holders, and making the survivors give them up 
a portion of their lands, as Odoacer first, and the 
Ostrogoths next, had done. At last, tired of law 
lessness, dissension and weakness, and seemingly 
dreading an invasion from Childebert, king of the 
Franks, they chose a king, Autharis the son of 
Cleph, and called him Flavins, by which Roman 
title the Lombard kings were afterwards known. 
Moreover, they agreed to give him (I conclude 
only once for all) the half of all their substance, 
to support the kingdom. There were certain 
tributes afterwards paid into the king's treasury 


every three years ; and certain fines, and also 
certain portions of the property of those who died 
without direct heirs, seem to have made up the 
revenue. Whereon Paul says, perfect peace and 
justice followed. 

Now for the laws, which were reduced into 
writing about sixty years afterwards. The first 
thing that you will remark about these laws, is 
that duel, wager of battle under shield, " diremptio 
causae per pugnam sub uno scuto," is the earliest 
form of settling a lawsuit. If you cannot agree, 
fight it out fairly, either by yourself or per cam 
pion em, a champion or kemper man, and God 
defend the right. Then follows 'faida/ blood- 
feud, from generation to generation. To stop 
which a man is allowed to purge himself by 
oath ; his own and that of certain neighbours, 
twelve in general, who will swear their belief in 
his innocence. This was common to the northern 
nations, and was the origin of our trial by jury. 
If guilty, the offender has to pay the weregeld, 
or legal price, set upon the injury he has inflicted. 
When the composition is paid, there is an end of 
the feud; if after taking the composition the 
plaintiff avenges himself, he has to pay it back. 
Hence our system of fines. 

This method of composition by fines runs 
through all the Teutonic laws ; and makes the 
punishment of death, at least among freemen, 
very rare. 


Punishments by stripes, by imprisonment, or by 
cruel or degrading methods, there are none. The 
person of a freeman is sacred, ' Vincire et verbe- 
rare nefas/ as Tacitus said of these Germans 600 
years before. 

The offences absolutely punishable by death 
seem to be, treason against the king's life; 
cowardice in battle; concealment of robbers; 
mutinies and attempts to escape out of the realm ; 
and therefore (under the then military organiza 
tion) to escape from the duty of every freeman, to 
bear arms in defence of the land. 

More than a hundred of these laws define the 
different fines, or 'weregelds,' by which each 
offence is to be compounded for, from 900 solidi 
aurei, gold pieces, for a murder, downwards to 
the smallest breach of the peace. Each limb 
has its special price. For the loss of an eye, half 
the price of the whole man is to be paid. A front 
tooth is worth 1 65., solidi aurei ; their loss being 
a disfigurement ; but a back tooth is worth only 
8s. A slave's tooth, on the other hand, is worth 
but 45. ; and in every case, the weregeld of a slave 
is much less than that of a freeman. 

The sacredness of the household, and the 
strong sense of the individual rights of property, 
are to be remarked. One found in a ' court/ 
courtledge (or homestead), by night (as we say 
in old English), may be killed. You know, I dare 
say, that in many Teutonic and Scandinavian 


nations the principle that a man's house is his 
castle was so strongly held that men were not 
allowed to enter a condemned man's house to 
carry him off to execution ; but if he would not 
come out, could only burn the house over his 
head. Shooting, or throwing a lance into any 
man's homestead, costs 205. ' Oberos,' or 'curtis 
ruptura,' that is, making violent entry into a 
man's homestead, costs 205. also. Nay, merely 
to fetch your own goods out of another man's 
house secretly, and without asking leave, was 
likewise punished as oberos. 

So of personal honour. 'Schelte' or insult, for 
instance, to call a man arga, i.e. a lazy loon, is a 
serious offence. If the defendant will confess that 
he said it in a passion, and will take oath that he 
never knew the plaintiff to be arga, he must still 
pay 125 ; but if he will stand to his word, then 
he must fight it out by duel, sub uno scuto. 

The person, for the same reason, was sacred. 
If a man had lain in wait for a freeman, ' cum 
virtute et solatio/ with valour and comfort, i.e. 
with armed men to back him, and had found him 
standing or walking simply, and had shamefully 
held him, or ' battiderit,' committed assault and 
battery on him, he must pay half the man's were- 
geld; the 'turpiter et ridiculum' being considered 
for a freeman as half as bad as death. Here 
you find in private life, as well as in public, the 
vincire et verberare nefas. 


If, again, one had a mind to lose 80 shillings of 
gold, he need but to commit the offence of ' meer- 
worphin/ a word which will puzzle you somewhat, 
till you find it to signify ' mare warping/ to warp, 
or throw one's neighbour off his mare or horse. 

A blow with the closed fist, again, costs three 
shillings: but one with the open hand, six. The 
latter is an insult as well as an injury. A free 
man is struck with the fist, but a slave with the 
palm of the hand. Breaking a man's head costs 
six solidi. But if one had broken his skull, 
then (as in the Alemannic laws) one must pay 
twelve shillings, and twelve more for each frac 
ture up to three after which they are not count 
ed. But a piece of bone must come out which 
will make a sound when thrown into a shield 
twelve feet off; which feet are to be measured 
by that of a man of middle stature. From which 
strange law may be deduced, not only the tough 
ness of the Lombard brain-pan, but the extreme 
necessity of defining each particular, in order to 
prevent subsequent disputes, followed up by a 
blood-feud, which might be handed down from 
father to son. For by accepting the legal fine, the 
injured man expressly renounced his primaeval 
right of feud. 

Then follow some curious laws in favour of 
the masters of Como, Magistri Comacenes, who 
seem to have been a guild of architects, perhaps 
the original germ of the great society of free- 


masons belonging, no doubt, to the Roman popu 
lation who were settled about the lake of Como, 
and were hired, on contract, (as the laws them 
selves express,) to build for the Lombards, who of 
course had no skill to make anything beyond a 
skin- tent or a log-hall. 

Then follow laws against incendiaries ; a fine 
for damage by accidental house-fire, if the offender 
have carried fire more than nine feet from the 
hearth ; a law against leaving a fire alight on 
a journey, as in the Australian colonies now. 
Then laws to protect mills; important matters in 
those days, being unknown to the Lombards be 
fore their entrance into Italy. 

Then laws of inheritance ; on which I shall 
remark, that natural sons, if free, are to have 
a portion of their father's inheritance; but less 
than the legitimate sons: but that a natural son 
born of a slave remains a slave, 'nisi pater 
liberum thingaverit.' This cruel law was the law 
of Rome and of the Church; our Anglo-Saxon 
forefathers, to their honour, held the reverse rule. 
1 Semper a patre, non a matre, generationis ordo 
texitur.' Next, it is to be remarked, that no free 
woman can live in Lombardy, or, I believe, in any 
Teutonic state, save under the ' mundium' of some 
one. You should understand this word ' mund.' 
Among most of the Teutonic races, women, slaves, 
and youths, at least not of age to carry arms, 
were under the mund of some one. Of course, 


primarily the father, head of the family, and if 
he died, an uncle, elder brother, &c. The married 
woman was, of course, under the mund of her 
husband. He was answerable for the good con 
duct of all under his mund ; he had to pay 
their fines if they offended; and he was bound, 
on the other hand, to protect them by all lawful 

This system still lingers in the legal status 
of women in England, for good and evil ; the 
husband is more or less answerable for the wife's 
debts; the wife, till lately, was unable to gain pro 
perty apart from her husband's control ; the wife 
is supposed, in certain cases of law, to act under 
the husband's compulsion. All these, and many 
others, are relics of the old system of mund for 
women ; and that system has, I verily - believe, 
succeeded. It has called out, as no other system 
could have done, chivalry in the man. It has 
made him feel it a duty and an honour to pro 
tect the physically weaker sex. It has made the 
woman feel that her influence, whether in the state 
or in the family, is to be not physical and legal, 
but moral and spiritual ; and that it therefore rests 
on a ground really nobler and deeper than that 
of the man. The modern experiments for eman 
cipating women from all mund, and placing them 
on a physical and legal equality with the man, 
may be right, and may be ultimately successful. 
We must not hastily prejudge them. But of this 


we may be almost certain; that if they succeed, 
they will cause a wide- spread revolution in society, 
of which the patent danger will be, the destruction 
of the feeling of chivalry, and the consequent 
brutalization of the male sex. 

Then follow laws relating to marriage and wo 
men, of which I may remark, that (as in Tacitus' 
time), the woman brings her dowry, or ' fader fee/ 
to her husband; and that the morning after the 
wedding she receives from him, if he be content 
with her, her morgen gap, or morning gift; which 
remains her own private property, unless she mis 

The honour of women, whether in fact or merely 
in fame, is protected by many severe laws, among 
which I shall only notice, that the calling a free 
woman 'striga' (witch) is severely punishable. If 
any one does so who has the mund of her, ex 
cept her father or brother, he loses his mund. 

On the whole, woman's condition seems inferior 
to man's on some points: but superior on others. 
e. g. A woman's weregeld the price of her life 
is T 200 solidi ; while the man's is only 900. 
For he can defend himself, but she cannot. On 
the other hand, if a man kill his wife, he pays only 
the 1200 solidi, and loses her dowry: but if she 
kill him, she dies. 

Again. If a free man be caught thieving, up 
to the amount of 20 siliquse, beans, i. e. one gold 
piece though Pope Gregory makes the solidus 


(aureus) 24 siliquae he replaces the theft, and 
pays 80 solidi, or dies ; and a slave one half, 
or dies. 

But if a free woman is taken in theft, she only 
replaces it ; for she has suffered for her wrong 
doing, and must lay it to her own shame, that she 
has tried to do ' operam indecentem,' a foul deed. 
And if an aldia or slave-woman steals, her master 
replaces the theft, and pays 40 solidi, minus the 
value of the stolen goods and beats her after 
wards, I presume, if he chooses. 

And now concerning slaves, who seem to have 
been divided into three classes. 

The Aldius and Aldia, masculine and feminine, 
who were of a higher rank than other slaves. 

The Aldius could marry a free woman, while 
the slave marrying a free woman is punishable by 
death ; and, as experimentum crucis, if an Aldius 
married an Aldia or a free woman, the children 
followed the father. If he married a slave, the 
children followed the mother, and became slaves of 
his lord. 

The Aldius, again, may not sell his lord's land 
or slaves, which indicates that he held land and 
slaves under his lord. 

What the word means, Grimm does not seem 
to know. He thinks it synonymous with 'litus,' 
of whom we hear as early as Tacitus' time, as 
one of the four classes, nobles, freemen, liti, slaves ; 
and therefore libertus, a freedman. But the word 


does not merely mean, it appears, a slave half 
freed by his master; but one rather hereditarily 
half free, and holding a farm under his lord. 

Did, however, is said to be an old German 
word for a slave; and it is possible that aldius (a 
'word only known, seemingly, in Lombardy) may 
have signified originally an old slave, an old 
Roman colonus, or peasant of some sort, found 
by the conquerors in possession of land, and al 
lowed to retain, and till it, from father to son. 
"We, in England, had the same distinction be 
tween ' Lset,' or ' villains' settled on the land, glebae 
adscripti, and mere thralls or theows, slaves pure 
and simple. No doubt such would have better 
terms than the mere mancipia slaves taken in 
war, or bought for the simple reason, that they 
would be agriculturists, practised in the Roman 
tillage, understanding the mysteries of irrigation, 
artificial grasses, and rotation of crops, as well as 
the culture of vines, fruit, and olives. 

Next to them you have different sorts of 
slaves ; Servus massarius, who seems to be also 
rusticanus, one who takes care of his lord's ' massa' 
or farm, and is allowed a peculium, it seems, some 
animals of his own, which he may not sell, though 
he may give away. And again, servus doctus, an 
educated household slave, whose weregeld is high 
er than that of others. 

The laws relating to fugitive slaves seem as 
merciful as such things can be ; and the Lombards 


have always had the credit of being kind and easy 

Connected with fugitive slaves are laws about 
portunarii, ferrymen, who appear, as you know, in 
the old ballads as very important, and generally 
formidable men. The fight between Von Troneg 
Hagen and the old ferryman in the Nibelungen 
Lied, is a famous instance of the ancient ferry 
men's prowess. One can easily understand how 
necessary strict laws were, to prevent these ferry 
men carrying over fugitive slaves, outlaws, and 
indeed any one without due caution; for each man 
was bound to remain in his own province, that 
he might be ready when called on for military 
service ; and a traveller to foreign parts was 
looked on as a deserter from his liege-lord and 

Then follow a great number of laws, to me 
both amusing and instructive, as giving us some 
glimpse of the country life of those Lombards in 
the 8th century. 

Scattered in the vast woodlands and marshes 
lie small farms, enclosed by ditches and posts and 
rails, from which if you steal a rail, you are fined 
15., if you steal a post, 35., and stake fences, which 
you must be careful in making, for if a horse 
stakes himself by leaping in, you pay nothing; 
but if he does so by leaping out, you pay the price 
of the horse. Moreover, you must leave no sharp 
stakes standing out of the hedge ; for if man or 


beast wounds himself thereby in passing, you have 
to pay full weregeld. 

Walking over sown land, or sending a woman 
of your rnundium to do so, in accordance with an 
ancient superstition, is a severe offence; so is in 
juring a vineyard, or taking more than tres uvse 
(bunches of grapes, I presume) from the vine. In 
juring land-marks cut on the trees (theclaturas and 
signaturas) or any other boundary mark, is severe 
ly punishable either in a slave, or in a freeman. 

In the vast woods range herds of swine, and in 
the pastures, horses, cared for by law; for to take 
a herd of swine or brood mares as pledge, without 
the king's leave, is punishable by death, or a fine 
of 9005. Oxen or horses used to the yoke can be 
taken as pledge ; but only by leave of the king, 
or of the schuldhais (local magistrate), on proof 
that the debtor has no other property; for by 
them he gets his living. If, however, you find 
pigs routing in your enclosure, you may kill one, 
under certain restrictions, but not the 'sornpair/ 
sounder boar, who 'battit et vincit' all the other 
boars in the sounder (old English for herd). 

Rival swineherds, as is to be supposed, 'batti- 
dunt inter se,' and ' scandalum faciunt,' often enough. 
Whereon the law advises them to fight it out, and 
then settle the damage between them. 

Horses are cared for. To ride another man's 
horse cost 25. ; to dock or crop him, eight-fold the 
damage ; and so on of hurting another man's 


horse. Moreover, if your neighbour's dog flies at 
you, you may hit him with a stick or little sword, 
and kill him, but if you throw a stone after him 
and kill him, you being then out of danger, you 
must give the master a new dog. 

Then there are quaint laws about hunting ; 
and damage caused by wild beasts caught in 
snares or brought to bay. A wounded stag be 
longs to the man who has w r ounded it for twenty- 
four hours: but after that to anyone. Tame deer, 
it is observable, are kept; and to kill a doe or 
fawn costs 65., to kill a buck, 1 2s. Tame hawks, 
cranes, and swans, if taken in snares, cost 65. 
But any man may take flying hawks out of his 
neighbour's wood, but not out of the Gaias Regis, 
the king's gehage, haies, hedges, or enclosed 

And now, I have but one more law to men 
tion would God that it had been in force in later 

'Let no one presume to kill another man's 
aldia or ancilla, as a striga, witch, which is called 
masca ; because it is not to be believed by Chris 
tian minds, that a woman can eat up a live man 
from within; and if any one does so he shall pay 
605. as her price, and for his fault, half to her 
master, and half to the king.' 

This last strange law forces on us a serious 
question, one which may have been suggesting 
itself to you throughout my lecture. If these 


were the old Teutonic laws, this the old Teutonic 
liberty, the respect for man as man, for woman 
as woman, whence came the opposite element? 
How is it that these liberties have been lost 
throughout almost all Europe ? How is it that 
a system of law prevailed over the whole con 
tinent, up to the French revolution, and prevails 
still in too many countries, the very opposite of 
aU this ? 

I am afraid that I must answer, Mainly 
through the influence of the Roman clergy during 
the middle age. 

The original difference of race between the 
clergy and the Teutonic conquerors, which I have 
already pointed out to you, had a curious effect, 
which lingers to this day. It placed the Church 
in antagonism, more or less open, to the civil 
administration of justice. The criminal was looked 
on by the priest rather as a sufferer to be de 
livered, than an offender to be punished. All 
who are conversant with the lives of saints must 
recollect cases in which the saint performs even 
miracles on behalf of the condemned. Mediaeval 
tales are full of instances of the same feeling which 
prompted the Italian brigands, even in our own 
times, to carry a leaden saint's image in his hat as 
a safeguard. In an old French fabliau, for in 
stance, we read how a certain highway-robber was 
always careful to address his prayers to the Blessed 
Virgin, before going out to murder and steal; and 



found the practice pay him well. For when he 
was taken and hanged, our Lady put her ' mains 
blanches' under his feet, and supported him in 
visibly for a whole day, till the executioner, 
finding it impossible to kill him, was forced to let 
him retire peaceably into a monastery, where he 
lived and died devoutly. We may laugh at such 
fancies; or express, if we will, our abhorrence of 
their immorality : but it will be more useful to 
examine into the causes which produced them. 
They seem to have been twofold. In the first 
place, the Church did not look on the Teutonic 
laws, whether Frank, Burgund, Goth or Lombard, 
as law at all. Her law, whether ecclesiastical or 
civil, was formed on the Roman model; and by it 
alone she wished herself, and those who were 
under her protection, to be judged. Next and 
this count is altogether to her honour law, such 
as it was, was too often administered, especially 
by the Franks, capriciously and brutally ; while 
the servile population, always the great majority, 
can hardly be said to have been under the pro 
tection of law at all. No one can read the pages 
of Fredegarius, or Gregory of Tours, without see 
ing that there must have been cases weekly, even 
daily, which called on the clergy, in the name of 
justice and humanity, to deliver if possible, the 
poor from him that spoiled him ; which excused 
fully the rise of the right of sanctuary, and of 
benefit of clergy, afterwards so much abused ; 


which made it a pious duty in prelates to work 
themselves into power at court, and there, as the 
'Chancellors' of princes, try to get something like 
regular justice done ; and naturally enough, to 
remodel the laws of each nation on the time- 
honoured and scientific Roman form. Neverthe 
less, the antagonism of the Church to the national 
and secular law remained for centuries. It died 
out first perhaps, in England, after the signature 
of Magna Charta. For then the English prelates 
began to take up that truly Protestant and na 
tional attitude which issued in the great Reforma 
tion : but it lingers still in Ireland and in Italy. 
It lingered in France up to the French revolu 
tion, as may be seen notably, in the account of 
the execution of the Marquise de Brinvilliers, 
by the priest who attended her. Horror at her 
atrocious crimes is quite swallowed up, in the 
mind of the good father, by sympathy with her 
suffering ; and the mob snatch her bones from 
the funeral pile, and keep them as the relics of 
a saint. 

But more. While the Roman clergy did real 
good to Europe, in preserving the scientific ele 
ments of Roman law, they did harm by preserving 
therewith other elements Roman chicane, and 
Roman cruelty. In that respect, as in others, 
' Rome conquered her conquerors ; ' and the de 
scendants of those Roman lawyers, whom the 
honest Teutons called adders, and as adders killed 



them down, destroyed, in course of time, Teutonic 

But those descendants were, alas ! the clergy. 
Weak, they began early to adopt those arms of 
quibbling, and craft, which religious men too often 
fancy are the proper arms of ' the saints ' against 
' the world.' Holding human nature in suspicion 
and contempt, they early gave way to the maxim 
of the savage, that every one is likely to be guilty 
till proved innocent, and therefore licensed the 
stupid brutalities of torture to extract confession. 
Holding self-degradation to be a virtue, and in 
dependence as a carnal vice; glorying in being 
slaves themselves, till to become, under the name 
of holy obedience, 'perinde ac cadaver/ was the 
ideal of a good monk ; and accustomed, themselves, 
to degrading corporal punishment ; they did not 
shrink from inflicting, even on boys and women, 
tortures as dastardly as indecent. Looking on 
the world, and on the future of the human race, 
through a medium compared with which the dark 
est fancies of a modern fanatic are bright and 
clear, they did not shrink from inflicting penalties, 
the very mention of which makes the blood run 
cold. Suspecting, if not alternately envying and 
despising, all women who were not nuns ; writing 
openly of the whole sex (until unsexed) as the 
snare and curse of mankind ; and possessed by a 
Manichsean belief in the power and presence of 
innumerable demons, whose especial victims were 


women ; they erected witch-hunting into a science ; 
they pandered to, and actually formalized, and 
justified on scientific grounds, the most cruel and 
cowardly superstitions of the mob; and again and 
again raised literal crusades against women, tor 
turing, exposing, burning, young and old, not 
merely in the witch-mania of the i/th century, 
but through the whole middle age. It is a de 
testable page of history. I ask those who may 
think my statement exaggerated, to consult the 
original authorities. Let them contrast Rothar's 
law about the impossibility of witchcraft, with the 
pages of the Malleus Maleficarum, Nider's For- 
nicarium, or Delrio the Jesuit, and see for them 
selves who were the false teachers. And if they 
be told, that the cruelties of the Inquisition were 
only those in vogue according to the secular law 
of the day, let them recollect that the formulizers 
of that law were none other than the celibate Ro 
man clergy. 

I do not deny that there was in all this a just, 
though a terrible, Nemesis. What was the essen 
tial fault of these Lombard laws indeed of all the 
Teutonic codes ? This that there was one law for 
the free man, another for the slave. Ecclesiastical 
dominion was necessary, to make one law for all 
classes, even though it were a law of common 
slavery. As the free had done to the slave, even 
so, and far worse, would the Roman clergy do to 
them. The Albigense persecutors, burning sixty 


ladies in one day; Conrad of Marpurg scourging 
his own sovereign, St Elizabeth ; shaving the Count 
of Saiym's head ; and burning noble ladies almost 
without trial; Sprenger and his compeers, offering 
up female hecatombs of the highest blood through 
out Germany ; English bishops burning in Smith- 
field Anne Askew, the hapless court- beauty, and 
her fellow-courtier Mr Lascelles, just as if they had 
been Essex or Berkshire peasants ; all these evil 
doers were welding the different classes of the 
European nations, by a community of suffering, 
into nations; into the belief that free and slave 
had one blood, one humanity, one conscience, one 
capacity of suffering; and at last, one capacity of 
rebelling, and making common cause, high and 
low alike, against him who reigned in Italy under 
the ' Romani nominis umbram .' 

And if our English law, our English ideas of 
justice and mercy, have retained, more than most 
European codes, the freedom, the truthfulness, the 
kindliness, of the old Teutonic laws, we owe it to 
the fact, that England escaped, more than any 
other land, the taint of effete Roman civilization ; 
that she therefore first of the lands, in the I2th 
century, rebelled against, and first of them, in 
the 1 6th century, threw off, the Ultramontane 

And surely it will be so, in due time, with the 
descendants of these very Lombards. We have 
seen them in these very years arise out of the 


dust and shame of centuries, and determine to be 
Lombards once again. We have seen a hero arise 
among them of the true old Teuton stamp, bearing 
worthily the name which his forefathers brought 
over the Alps with Alboin Garibald, the ' bold in 
war.' May they succeed in the same noble strug 
gle as that in which we succeeded, and returning, 
not in letter, but in spirit, to the old laws of Eothar 
and their free forefathers, become the leading race 
of a free and united Italy ! 



' OUR Lady the Mother of God, even Virgin Maria, 
together with us, protests to you, adjuring you 
with great obligations, and admonishes and com 
mands you, and with her the thrones, dominations, 
all the heavenly angels, the martyrs and confessors 
of Christ, on behalf of the Roman city, committed 
to us by the Lord God, and the sheep of the Lord 
dwelling in it. Defend and free it speedily from the 
hands of the persecuting Lombards, lest my body 
which suffered torments for Christ, and my home 
in which it rests by the command of God, be con 
taminated by the people of the Lombards, who are 
guilty of such iniquitous perjury, and are proud 
transgressors of the divine scripture. So will I 
at the day of judgment reward you with my patron 
age, and prepare for you in the kingdom of God 
most shining and glorious tabernacles, promising 
you the reward of eternal retribution, and the in 
finite joys of paradise. 


'Run, by the true and living God I exhort you, 
run, and help ; before the living fountain, whence 
you were consecrated and born again, shall dry up ; 
before the little spark remaining of that brilliant 
flame, from which you knew the light, be extin 
guished; before your spiritual mother, the holy 
Church of God, in which you hope to receive eter 
nal life, shall be humiliated, invaded, violated, and 
defiled by the impious. 

' But if not, may your provinces in return, and 
your possessions, be invaded by people whom you 
know not. Separate not yourselves from my Ro 
man people; so you will not be aliens, and separate 
from the kingdom of God, and eternal life. For 
whatever you shall ask of me, I will surely give 
you, and be your patron. Assist my Roman peo 
ple, your brothers ; and strive more perfectly ; for 
it is written, No man receiveth the crown, unless 
he strive lawfully. 

' I conjure you, most beloved, by the living God, 
leave not this my city of Rome to be any longer 
torn by the Lombards, lest your bodies and souls 
be torn and tormented for ever, in inextinguishable 
and Tartarian fire with the devil and his pestife 
rous angels ; and let not the sheep of the Lord's 
flock, which are the Roman people, be dispersed 
any more, lest the Lord disperse you, and cast 
you forth as the people of Israel was dispersed.' 

You will conclude, doubtless, that this curious 
document can be nothing but a papal allocution. 


Its peculiar scriptural style (wrongly supposed to 
have been invented by the Puritans, who merely 
learnt it from the old Roman clergy), as well 
as the self-conceit, which fancies the fate of the 
whole world to depend on the prosperity of a 
small half-ruined city in Italy, will be to you 
sufficient marks of the Roman hand. But you 
will be somewhat mistaken. It is hardly an epis 
tle from the successor of St Peter. It professes 
to be an epistle from St Peter himself, and sent 
by him through the hands of Pope Stephen III. 
to Pepin the king of the Franks, in the year 
755. You will have concluded also from it, that 
Catholic Christianity is in its extreme agony; 
that the worship and name of our Lord, and the 
fountains of sacramental grace, are about to be 
extinguished for ever, and that nothing but heresy 
or heathendom can follow. Then you will be quite 
mistaken. These Lombards are pious Catholics. 
Builders of churches and monasteries, they are 
taking up the relics of the Roman martyrs, to 
transfer them to the churches of Milan and Pavia. 
They have just given Pope Stephen the most 
striking proof of their awe of his person and office. 
But they are quarrelling with him about the boun 
daries of his estates for the patrimony of St Peter. 
They consider that he and his* predecessors have 
grossly wronged them at different times; and now 
last of all, by calling in foreign invaders; and 
they are at the gates of Rome laying waste the 


country, and demanding a poll-tax as ransom. 
That is all. 

The causes which led to this quarrel must be 
sought far back in history. The original docu 
ments in which you will find the facts will be 
Paulus Diaconus, as far as King Luitprand's 
death ; then the Life and Writings of Gregory the 
Great; and then Baronius' Annals, especially his 
quotations from Anastasius' Life of Stephen III., 
bearing in mind that, as with the Ostrogoths, we 
have only the Roman Papal story ; that the Lom 
bards have never stated their case, not even through 
Paulus Diaconus, who, being a clergyman, pru 
dently holds his tongue about the whole matter. 
But by far the best account is to be found in Dean 
Milman's ' Latin Christianity/ Vols. I. and II. 
Rome, you must understand, has become gradually 
the patrimony of St Peter; the Popes are the 
practical kings of Rome, possessing, in the name 
of the Church, much land round Rome, and many 
estates scattered throughout Italy, and even in 
Sicily, Gaul, Africa, and the East estates proba 
bly bequeathed by pious people. They have suc 
ceeded to this jurisdiction simply by default. They 
rule Rome, because there is no one else to rule it. 
"We find St Gregory the Great feeding the pauper- 
masses of Rome, on the first day of every month, 
from the fruitful corn-bearing estates in Sicily; 
keeping up the 'Panem;' but substituting, thank 
Heaven, for the 'Circenses' at least the services 


of the Church. Of course, the man who could 
keep the Roman people alive must needs become, 
ipso facto, their monarch. 

The Pope acknowledges, of course, a certain 
allegiance to the Emperor at Constantinople, and 
therefore to his representative, the Exarch of Ra 
venna : that is to say, he meets them with flattery 
when they are working on his side ; with wrath 
when they oppose him. He intrigues with them, 
too, whenever he can safely do so, against the 

Thus the Pope has become, during the four 
centuries which followed the destruction of the 
Western Empire, the sole surviving representative 
of that Empire. He is the head of the 'gens 
togata;' of the 'Senatus Populusque Romanus.' 
In him Rome has risen again out of her grave, to 
awe the peoples once more by the Romani nominis 
umbra ; and to found a new Empire ; not as before, 
on physical force, and the awe of visible power ; 
but on the deeper and more enduring ground of 
spiritual force, and the awe of the invisible world. 

An Empire, I say. The Popes were becoming, 
from the 5th to the 8th centuries, not merely the 
lords of Rome, but the lords of the Western 
Church. Their spiritual Empire, to do them jus 
tice, was not so much deliberately sought by them, 
as thrust upon them. As the clergy were, all over 
the Empire, the representatives of the down-trod 
den Romans, so they naturally gravitated toward 


the Eternal City, their ancient mistress. Like all 
disciplined and organized bodies they felt the need 
of unity, of monarchy. "Where could they find it, 
save at Rome ? Rome was still, practically and in 
fact, the fountain of their doctrine, of their supe 
rior civilization ; and to submit themselves to the 
Pope of Rome was their only means of keeping 
up one faith, one practice, and the strength which 
comes from union. 

To seat the Pope upon the throne of the 
Caesars ; to attribute to him powers weightier than 
all which the Caesars had possest. ... It was a 
magnificent idea. A politic idea, too ; for it would 
cover the priesthood with all the prestige of an 
cient Rome, and enable them to face the barbarian 
in the name of that great people whose very 
memory still awed him; whose baths, aqueducts, 
palaces, he looked on as the work of demons ; 
whose sages and poets were to him enchanters; 
whose very gems, dug out of the ruins by night, 
in fear and trembling, possest magic influence for 
healing, for preservation, for good fortune in peace 
or war. 

Politic ; and in their eyes, true. Easy enough 
to be believed honestly, by men who already 
believed honestly in their own divine mission. 
They were the representatives of Christ on earth. 
Of that fact there could be then, or can be now, 
no doubt whatsoever. Whatsoever truth, light, 
righteousness, there was in the West, came to it 


through them. And Christ was the King of 
kings. But He delayed his coming : at moments, 
He seemed to have deserted the earth, and left 
mankind to tear itself in pieces, with wild war and 
misrule. But it could not be so. If Christ were 
absent, He must at least have left an authority 
behind Him to occupy till He came; a head and 
ruler for his opprest and distracted Church. And 
who could that be, if not the Pope of Rome ? 

It ought to be so. It must be so thought 
they. And to men in that mood, proofs that it 
was so soon came to hand, and accumulated from 
generation to generation; till the Pope at last 
found himself proclaiming, and what was more, 
believing, that God had given the whole world 
to St Peter, and through St Peter to him ; and 
that he was the only source of power, law, king 
ship, who could set up and pull down whom he 
would, as the vicegerent of God on earth. 

Such pretensions of course, grew but slowly. 
It was not, I believe, till the year 875, 180 years 
after the time of which I am speaking, that 
Pope John VIII. distinctly asserted his right, 
as representative of the ancient Roman Empire, to 
create the Caesar ; and informed the Synod of 
Pa via that he had 'elected and approved Charles 
the Bald, with the consent of his brothers the 
bishops, of the other ministers of the Holy 
Roman Church, and' (significant, though empty 
words) 'of the Roman senate and people.' 


At the time of which I speak, the power was 
still in embryo, growing, through many struggles : 
but growing surely and strongly, and destined 
speedily to avenge the fall of Rome on the simple 
barbarians who were tearing each other to pieces 
over her spoils. 

It is not easy to explain the lasting and here 
ditary hatred of the Popes to the Lombards. Its 
origin is simple enough : but not so its continu 
ance. Why they should be nefandissimi in the 
eyes of Pope Gregory the Great one sees : but why 
100 years afterwards, they should be still nefan 
dissimi, and 'non dicenda gens Langobardorum/ 
not to be called a nation, is puzzling. 

At first, of course, the Pope could only look on 
them as a fresh horde of barbarous conquerors ; 
half heathen, half Arian. Their virtuous and 
loyal life within the boundaries of Alboin's con 
quests of which Paulus Diaconus says, that vio 
lence and treachery were unknown that no one 
oppressed, no one plundered that the traveller 
went where he would in perfect safety all this 
would be hid from the Pope by the plain fact, 
that they were continually enlarging their frontier 
toward Home ; that they had founded two half- 
independent Dukedoms of Beneventum and Spo- 
leto, that Autharis had swept over South Italy, 
and ridden his horse into the sea at Reggio, to 
strike with his lance a column in the waves, and 
cry, ' Here ends the Lombard kingdom.' 


The Pope (Gregory the Great I am speaking 
of) could only recollect, again, that during the 
lawless interregnum before Autharis' coronation, 
the independent Lombard dukes had plundered 
Churches and monasteries, slain the clergy, and 
destroyed the people, who had 'grown up again 
like corn.' 

But as years rolled on, these Arian Lombards 
nad become good Catholics ; and that in the 
lifetime of Gregory the Great. 

Theodelinda, the Bavarian princess, she to 
whom Autharis had gone in disguise to her 
father's court, and only confessed himself at his 
departure, by rising in his stirrups, and bury 
ing his battle-axe in a tree stem with the cry, 
'Thus smites Autharis the Lombard.' This The 
odelinda, I say, had married after his death 
Agilwulf his cousin, and made him king of the 

She was a Catholic; and through her Gregory 
the Great converted Autharis, and the Lombard 
nation. To her he addressed those famous dia 
logues of his, full alike of. true piety and earnest 
ness, and of childish superstition. But in judging 
them and him we must bear in mind, that these 
Lombards became at least by his means Catho 
lics, and that Arians would have believed in the 
superstitions just as much as Catholics. And it is 
surely better to believe a great truth, plus certain 
mistakes which do not affect it in the least, than 


a great lie, plus the very same mistakes like 
wise. Which is best, to believe that the road to 
London lies through Bishopstortford, and that 
there are dog-headed men on the road: or that 
it lies through Edinburgh, but that there are dog- 
headed men on that road too ? 

Theodolinda had built at Modicsea, twelve miles 
above Milan, a fair basilica to John the Baptist, 
enriched by her and the Lombard kings and 
dukes, 'crowns, crosses, golden tables adorned 
with emeralds, hyacinths, amber, carbuncles and 
pearls, gold and silver altar-cloths, and that 
admirable cup of sapphire,' all which remained till 
the eighteenth century. There, too, was the 
famous iron crown of Lombardy, which Austria 
still claims as her own ; so called from a thin 
ring of iron inserted in it, made from a nail of 
the true cross which Gregory had sent Agilwulf ; 
just as he sent Childebert, the Frankish king, 
some filings of St Peter's chains ; which how 
ever, he says, did not always allow their sacred 
selves to be filed. 

In return, Agilwulf had restored "the church- 
property which he had plundered, had reinstated 
the bishops ; and why did not all go well ? Why 
are these Lombards still the most wicked of men ? 

Again, in the beginning of the eighth century 
came the days of the good Luitprand, 'wise and 
pious, a lover of peace, and mighty in war; merci 
ful to offenders, chaste and modest, instant in 



prayer, bountiful in alms, equal to the philoso 
phers, though he knew no letters, a nourisher of 
his people, an augmenter of the laws/ He it 
was, who, when he had quarrelled with Pope 
Gregory II., and marched on Rome, was stopped 
at the Gates of the Vatican by the Pontiff's 
prayers and threats. And a sacred awe fell on 
him; and humbly entering St Peter's, he wor 
shipped there, and laid on the Apostle's tomb 
his royal arms, his silver cross and crown of gold, 
and withdrawing his army, went home again in 
peace. But why were this great king's good 
deeds towards the Pope and the Catholic faith 
rewarded, by what we can only call detestable 
intrigue and treachery? 

Again ; Leo the Iconoclast Emperor destroyed 
the holy images in the East, and sent commands 
to the Exarch of Ravenna to destroy them in 
western Italy. Pope Gregory II. replied by re 
nouncing allegiance to the Emperor of Constanti 
nople ; and by two famous letters which are still 
preserved ; in which he tells the Iconoclast Empe 
ror, that 'if he went round the grammar-schools at 
Rome, the children would throw their horn-books 
at his head... that he implored Christ to send the 
Emperor a devil, for the destruction of his body 
arid the salvation of his soul... that if he attempted 
to destroy the images in Rome, the pontiff would 
take refuge with the Lombards, and then he might 
as well chase the wind... that the Popes were the 


mediators of peace between East and West, and 
that the eyes of the nations were fixed on the 
Pope's humility, and adored as a God on earth 
the apostle St Peter. And that the pious Bar 
barians, kindled into rage, thirsted to avenge the 
persecution of the East/ Then Luitprand took up 
the cause of the Pope and his images, and of the 
mob, who were furious at the loss of their idols ; 
and marched on Ravenna, which opened her gates 
to him, so that he became master of the whole 
Pentapolis; and image-worship, to which some 
plainspoken people give a harsher name, was 
saved for ever and a day in Italy. Why did 
Gregory II. in return, call in Orso, the first 
Venetian Doge, to expel from Ravenna the very 
Luitprand who had fought his battles for him, 
and to restore that Exarchate of Ravenna, of 
which it was confessed, that its civil quarrels, 
misrule, and extortions, made it the most miser 
able government in Italy? And why did he 
enter into secret negotiations with the Franks 
to come and invade Italy? 

Again, when Luitprand wanted to reduce the 
duchies of Beneventum and Spoleto, which he 
considered as rebels against him, their feudal 
suzerain ; why did the next Pope, Gregory III., 
again send over the Alps to Charles Martel to 
come and invade Italy, and deliver the Church 
and Christ's people from ruin ? 

And who were these Franks, the ancestors of 



that magnificent, but profligate aristocracy whose 
destruction our grandfathers beheld in 1793? I 
have purposely abstained from describing them, 
till they appear upon the stage of Italy, and take 
part in her fortunes which were then the fortunes 
of the world. 

They appear first on the Roman frontier in 
A.D. 241, and from that time are never at rest till 
they have conquered the north of Gaul. They 
are supposed (with reason) not to have been a race 
or tribe at all : but a confederation of warriors, 
who w r ere simply ' Franken/ ' free ;' ( free compa 
nions/ or 'free lances/ as they would have been 
called a few centuries later; who recruited them 
selves from any and every tribe who would, join 
them in war and plunder. If this was the case ; 
if they had thrown away, as adventurers, much 
of the old Teutonic respect for law, for the royal 
races, for family life, for the sacred bonds of kin 
dred, many of their peculiarities are explained. 
Falsehood, brutality, lawlessness, ignorance, and 
cruelty to the conquered Romans, were their spe 
cial sins ; while their special, and indeed only 
virtue, was that indomitable daring which they 
transmitted to their descendants for so many hun 
dred years. The buccaneers of the young world, 
they were insensible to all influences save that of 
superstition. They had become, under Clovis, or 
thodox Christians: but their conversion, to judge 
from the notorious facts of history, worked 


little improvement on their morals. The pages 
of Gregory of Tours are comparable, for dreary 
monotony of horrors, only to those of Johnson's 
History of the Pyrates. 

But, as M. Sismondi well remarks, their very 
ignorance and brutality made them the more easily 
the tools of the Roman clergy : 'Cette haute ve 
neration pour 1'Eglise, et leur severe orthodoxie, 
d'autant plus facile a conserver que, ne faisant 
aucune etude, et ne disputant jamais sur la foi, ils 
ne connaissaient pas merne les questions controver 
sies, leur donnerent dans le clerge de puissants 
auxiliaires. Les Francs se montrerent disposes a 
hair les Ariens, a les combattres, et les depouiller 
sans les entendre ; les eveques, en retour, ne se 
montrerent pas scrupuleux sur le reste des enseigne- 
ments moraux de la religion : ils fermerent les 
yeux sur les violences, le meurtre, le dereglement 
des mceurs ; ils autoriserent en quelque sorte pub- 
liquement la poligamie, et ils precherent le droit 
divin des rois et le devoir de Tobeissance pour 
les peuplesV 

A painful picture of the alliance : but, I fear, 
too true. 

The history of these Franks you must read 
for yourselves. You will find it well told in the 
pages of Sismondi, and in Mr Perry's excellent 
book, 'The Franks.' It suffices now to say, that 
in the days of Luitprand these Franks, after 

1 Sismondi, Hist, de la Chute de V Empire Remain, p. 187. 


centuries of confusion and bloodshed, have been 
united into one great nation, stretching from 
the Rhine to the Loire and the sea, and en 
croaching continually to the southward and east 
ward. The government has long passed out of 
the hands of their faineant Meerwing kings into 
that of the semi-hereditary Majores Domus, 
or Mayors of the Palace ; and Charles Martel, 
perhaps the greatest of that race of great men, 
has just made himself mayor of Austrasia, (the 
real Teutonic centre of Frank life and power), 
Neustria and Burgundy. He has crushed Eudo, 
the duke of Romanized Aquitaine, and has 
finally delivered France and Christendom from the 
invading Saracens. On his Franks, and on the 
Lombards of Italy, rest, for the moment, the des 
tinies of Europe. 

For meanwhile another portent has appeared, 
this time out of the far East. Another swarm of 
destroyers has swept over the earth. The wild 
Arabs of the desert, awakening into sudden life 
and civilization under the influence of a new 
creed, have overwhelmed the whole East, the whole 
north of Africa, destroying the last relics of Ro 
man and Greek civilization, and with them the 
effete and semi-idolatrous Christianity of the Em 
pire. All the work of Narses and Belisarius is 
undone. Arab Emirs rule in the old kingdom 
of the Vandals. The new human deluge has 
crossed the Straits into Europe. The Visigoths, 


enervated by the luxurious climate of Spain, have 
recoiled before the Mussulman invaders. Rode 
rick, the last king of the Goths, is wandering as 
an unknown penitent in expiation of his sin against 
the fair Cava, which brought down (so legends 
and ballads tell) the scourge of God upon the 
hapless land; and the remnants of the old Visi 
goths and Sueves are crushed together into the 
mountain fastnesses of Asturiasand Gallicia, thence 
to reissue, after long centuries, as the noble Spanish 
nation, wrought in the forges of adversity into 
the likeness of tempered steel; and destined to 
reconquer, foot by foot, their native land from 
the Moslem invader. 

But at present the Crescent was master of the 
Cross ; and beyond the Pyrenees all was slavery 
and ' miscreance.' The Arabs, invading France 
in 732, in countless thousands, had been driven 
back at the great fight of Tours, with a 
slaughter so great, that the excited imagination 
of Paulus Diaconus sees 375,000 miscreants dead 
upon the field, while only 1500 Franks had 
perished. But home troubles had prevented 'the 
Hammer of the Moors' from following up his 
victory. The Saracens had returned in force in 
737, and again in 739. They still held Nar- 
bonne. The danger was imminent. There was no 
reason why they should not attempt a third in 
vasion. Why should they not spread along the 
shores of the Mediterranean, establishing them- 


selves there, as they were already doing in Sicily, 
and menacing Rome from north as well as south? 
To unite, therefore, the two great Catholic Teu 
tonic powers, the Frank and the Lombard, for 
the defence of Christendom, should have been the 
policy of him who called himself the Chief Pontiff 
in Christendom. Yet the Pope preferred, in the 
face of that great danger, to set the Teutonic 
nations on destroying each other, rather than to 
unite them against the Moslem. 

The bribe offered to the Frank was significant 
the title of Roman Consul; beside which he was to 
have filings of St Peter's chains, and the key of 
his tomb, to preserve him body and soul from all 

Charles would not come. Frank though he 
was, he was too honourable to march at a priest's 
bidding against Luitprand, his old brother in arms, 
to whom he had sent the boy Pepin, his son, that 
Luitprand might take him on his knee, and cut 
his long royal hair, and become his father-in-arms, 
after the good old Teuton fashion ; Luitprand, who 
with his Lombards had helped him to save Chris 
tendom a second time from the Mussulman in 737. 
The Pope, one would think, should have remem 
bered that good deed of the good Lombard's, 
whereof his epitaph sings, 

" Deinceps tremuere feroces 
Usque Saraceni, quos dispulit impiger, ipsos 
Cum premerent Gallos, Karolo poscente juvari." 


So Charles Martel took the title of Patrician 
from the Pope, but sent him no armies; and the 
quarrel went on ; while Charles filled up the 
measure of his iniquity by meddling with that 
church-property in Gaul which his sword had 
saved from the hordes of the Saracens ; and is 
now, as St Eucherius (or Bp. Hincmar) saw in a 
vision, writhing therefore in the lowest abyss of 

So one generation more passes by ; and then 
Pepin le Bref, grown to manhood, is less scrupu 
lous than his father. He is bound to the pope by 
gratitude. The pope has confirmed him as king, 
allowing him to depose the royal house of the 
Merovingians, and so assumed the right of making 
kings. A right which future popes will not 

Meanwhile the Pope has persuaded the Lom 
bard king Rachis to go into a monastery. Astulf 
seizes the crown, and attacks Ravenna. The Pope 
succeeding, Stephen III., opposes him ; and he 
marches on Rome, threatening to assault it, un 
less the citizens redeem their lives by a poll-tax. 

Stephen determines to go himself to Pepin to 
ask for help : and so awful has the name and 
person of a Pope become, that he is allowed to do 
it ; allowed to pass safely and unarmed through 
the very land upon which he is going to let loose 
all the horrors of invading warfare. 

It is a strange, and instructive figure, that. The 


dread of the unseen, the fear of spiritual power, 
has fallen on the wild Teutons; on Frank and on 
Lombard alike. The Pope and his clergy are to 
them magicians, against whom neither sword nor 
lance avails ; who can heal the sick and blast the 
sound ; who can call to their aid out of the clouds 
that pantheon of demi-gods, with which, under the 
name of saints, they have peopled heaven ; who 
can let loose on them the legions of fiends who 
dwell in every cave, every forest, every ruin, every 
cloud ; who can, by the sentence of excommunica 
tion, destroy both body and soul in hell. They 
were very loth to fear God, these wild Teutons; 
therefore they had instead, as all men have who 
will not fear God, to fear the devil. 

So pope Stephen goes to Pepin, the eldest son 
of the Church. He promises to come with all his 
Franks. Stephen's conscience seems to have been 
touched : he tries to have no fighting, only nego 
tiation : but it is too late now. Astolf will hear 
of no terms ; Pepin sweeps over the Alps, and at 
the gates of Pa via dictates his own terms to the 
Lombards. The old Lombard spirit seems to have 
past away. 

Pepin goes back again, and Astolf refuses to 
fulfil his promises. The Pope sends Pepin that 
letter from St Peter himself with which this lec 
ture commenced. 

Astolf has marched down, as we heard, to the 
walls of Rome, laying the land waste; cutting 


down the vines, carrying off consecrated vessels, 
insulting the sacrament of the altar. The Lom 
bards have violated nuns ; and tried to kill them, 
the Pope says ; though if they had really tried, one 
cannot see why they should not have succeeded. 
In fact, Pope Stephen's hysterical orations to 
Pepin must be received with extreme caution. JSTo 
Catholic historian of that age cares to examine the 
truth of a fact which makes for him ; nothing is 
too bad to say of an enemy: and really the man 
who would forge a letter from St Peter might 
dare to tell a few lesser falsehoods into the bargain. 
Pepin cannot but obey so august a summons; and 
again he is in Italy, and the Lombards dare not 
resist him. He seizes not only all that Astolf had 
taken from the Pope, but the Pentapolis and Ex 
archate, the property, if of any one, of the Greek 
Emperors, and bestows them on Stephen ; the 
Pope and 'the holy Roman Republic/ 

The pope's commissioners received the keys of 
the towns, which were placed upon the altar of 
St Peter ; and this, the Dotation of Pepin, the 
Dotation of the Exarchate, was the first legal 
temporal sovereignty of the Popes : born in sin, 
and conceived in iniquity, as you may see. 

The Lombard rule now broke up rapidly. The 
Lombards of Spoleto yielded to the double pres 
sure of Franks and Romans, asked to be ' taken 
into the service of St Peter/ and dipt their long 
German locks after the Roman fashion. 


Charlemagne, in his final invasion, had little 
left to do. He confirmed Pepin's gift, and even, 
though he hardly kept his promise, enlarged it to 
include the whole of Italy, from Lombardy to the 
frontier of Naples, while he himself became king 
of Lombardy, and won the iron crown. 

And so by French armies not for the last 
time was the Pope propt up on his ill-gotten 

But the mere support of French armies was 
not enough to seat the Pope securely upon the 
throne of the western Caesars. Documentary evi 
dence was required to prove that they possessed 
Rome, not as the vassals of the Frankish Kaisers, 
or of any barbarian Teutons whatsoever; but in 
their own right, as hereditary sovereigns of Rome. 
And the documents, when needed, were forth 
coming. Under the name of St Isidore, some 
ready scribe produced the too-famous ' Decretals/ 
and the ' Donation of Constantine/ and Pope 
Adrian I. saw no reason against publishing them 
to Charlemagne and to the world. 

It was discovered suddenly, by means of these 
remarkable documents, that Constantine the Great 
had been healed of leprosy, and afterwards bap 
tized, by Pope Sylvester ; that he had, in grati 
tude for his cure, resigned to the Popes his western 
throne, and the patrimony of St Peter, and the 
sovereignty of Italy and the West ; 'and that 
this was the true reason of his having founded 


Constantinople, as a new seat of government for 
the remnant of his empire. 

This astounding falsehood was, of course, ac 
cepted humbly by the unlettered Teutons ; and did 
its work well, for centuries to come. It is said 
I trust not truly to be still enrolled among the 
decrees of the Canon law, though reprobated by 
all enlightened Roman Catholics. Be that as it 
may, on the strength of this document the Popes 
began to assume an all but despotic sovereignty 
over the western world, and the Teutonic peoples, 
and Rome's conquest of her conquerors was at 
last complete, 

"What then were the causes of the Papal hatred 
of a race who were good and devout Catholics for 
the last 200 years of their rule ? 

There were deep political reasons (in the 
strictest, and I am afraid lowest sense of the word) ; 
but over and above them there were evidently 
moral reasons, which lay even deeper still. 

A free, plain-spoken, practical race like these 
Lombards; living by their own laws; disbelieving 
in witchcraft; and seemingly doing little for mo- 
nasticism, were not likely to find favour in the 
eyes of popes. They were not the material which 
the Papacy could mould into the Neapolitan ideal 
of 'Little saints, and little asses.' These Lom 
bards were not a superstitious race ; they did 
not, like the Franks and Anglo-Saxons, crowd 
into monasteries. I can only find four instances 


of Lombard sovereigns founding monasteries in 
all Paulas' history. One of them, strangely 
enough, is that of the very Astulf against whom 
the Pope fulminated so loudly the letter from St 
Peter which I read you. 

Moreover, it must be said in all fairness the 
Lombards despised the Romans exceedingly. So 
did all the Teutons. 'We Lombards/ says Bishop 
Luitprand, 'Saxons, Franks, Lorrainers, Bava 
rians, Sueves, Burgunds, consider it a sufficient 
insult to call our enemy a Roman; comprehend 
ing in that one name of Roman, whatever is ig 
noble, cowardly, avaricious, luxurious, false, in 
a word, every vice.' If this was as it very pro 
bably was the feeling of the whole Teutonic 
race ; and if it was repaid as it certainly was 
on the part of the Roman, by contempt for the 
'barbarism' and 'ignorance' of the Teuton; what 
must have been the feeling between Roman and 
Lombard ? Contact must have embittered mutual 
contempt into an utter and internecine hatred, in 
which the Pope, as representative of the Roman 
people, could not but share. 

As for the political reasons, they are clear 
enough. It is absurd to say that they wished to 
free Italy from Lombard tyrants. What did they 
do but hand her over to Frankish tyrants instead? 
No. The true reason was this. Gradually there 
had arisen in the mind of all Popes, from Gregory 
the Great onward, the idea of a spiritual supremacy, 


independent of all kings of the earth. It was a 
great idea, as the event proved : it was a beneficent 
one for Europe; but a ruinous one for Italy. For 
the Popes were not content with spiritual power. 
They could not conceive of it as separated from 
temporal power, and temporal power meant land. 
How early they set their hearts on the Exarchate of 
Ravenna, we shall never know : the fact is patent, 
that it was a Naboth's vineyard to them; and 
that to obtain it they called in the Franks. 

Their dread was, evidently, lest the Lombards 
should become masters of the whole of Italy. A 
united Italy suited their views then, no more than 
it does now. Not only did they conceive of Home 
as still the centre of the western world, but more, 
their stock in trade was at Home. The chains of 
St Peter, the sepulchres of St Peter and St Paul, 
the catacombs filled with the bones of innumerable 
martyrs ; these were their stock in trade. By 
giving these, selling these, working miracles with 
these, calling pilgrims from all parts of Christen 
dom to visit these in situ, they kept up their 
power and their wealth. I do not accuse them of 
misusing that power and that wealth in those days. 
They used them, on the contrary, better than 
power and wealth had been ever used in the world 
before. But they were dependent on the sanc 
tity attached to a particular spot ; and any power, 
which, like the Lombard, tended to give Italy 
another centre than Rome, they dreaded and dis- 


liked. That Lombard basilica, near Milan, with all 
its treasures, must have been in their eyes, a formid 
able rival. Still more frightful must it have been 
to them to see Astulf, when he encamped before 
the walls of Rome, searching for martyrs' relics, 
and carrying them off to Milan. That, as a fact, 
seems to have been the exciting cause of Ste 
phen's journey to Pepin. This Astulf was a good 
Catholic. He founded a nunnery, and put his 
own daughters in it. What could a man do more 
meritorious in the eyes of the Pope? But he took 
away the lands of the Church, and worse, the 
relics, the reserved capital by which the Church 
purchased lands. This was indeed a crime only to 
be expiated by the horrors of a Frank invasion. 

On the same principle the Popes supported the 
Exarchs of Ravenna, and the independent duchies 
of Spoleto and Beneventuin. Well or ill ruled, 
Iconoclast or not, they were necessary to keep 
Italy divided and weak. And having obtained 
what they wanted from Pepin and Charlemagne, it 
was still their interest to pursue the same policy ; 
to compound for their own independence, as they 
did with Charlemagne and his successors, by de 
fending the pretences of foreign kings to the 
sovereignty of the rest of Italy. This has been 
their policy for centuries. It is their policy still; 
and that policy has been the curse of Italy. This 
fatal gift of the patrimony of St Peter as Dante 
saw as Machiavelli saw, as all clear-sighted 


Italians have seen, as we are seeing it now in 
these very days has kept her divided, torn by 
civil wars, conquered and reconquered by foreign 
invaders. Unable, as a celibate ecclesiastic, to 
form his dominions into a strong hereditary king 
dom ; unable, as the hierophant of a priestly caste, 
to unite his people in the bonds of national life; 
unable, as Borgia tried to do, to conquer the rest 
of Italy for himself, and form it into a kingdom 
large enough to have weight in the balance of 
power; the Pope has been forced, again and again, 
to keep himself on his throne by intriguing with 
foreign princes, and calling in foreign arms; and 
the bane of Italy, from the time of Stephen III. 
to that of Pius IX., has been the temporal power 
of the Pope. 

But on the popes, also, the Nemesis came. In 
building their power on the Roman relics, on the 
fable that Home was the patrimony of Peter, they 
had built on a lie ; and that lie avenged itself. 

Had they been independent of the locality of 
Koine ; had they been really spiritual emperors, by 
becoming cosmopolitan, journeying, it may be, 
from nation to nation in regular progresses, then 
their power might have been as boundless as they 
ever desired it should be. Having committed 
themselves to the false position of being petty 
kings of a petty kingdom, they had to endure 
continual treachery and tyranny from their foreign 
allies; to see not merely Italy, but Home itself 



insulted, and even sacked, by faithful Catholics; 
and to become more and more, as the centuries 
rolled on, the tools of those very kings whom 
they had wished to make their tools. 

True; they defended themselves long, and with 
astonishing skill and courage. Their sources of 
power were two, the moral, and the thaumaturgic ; 
and they used them both: but when the former 
failed, the latter became useless. As long as their 
moral power was real ; as long as they and their 
clergy were on the whole, in spite of enormous 
faults, the best men in Europe ; so long the people 
believed in them, and in their thaumaturgic relics 
likewise. But they became by no means the best 
men in Europe. Then they began to think that 
after all it was more easy to work the material 
than the moral power easier to work the bones 
than to work righteousness. They were deceived. 
Behold! when the righteousness was gone, the 
bones refused to work. People began to question 
the virtues of the bones, and to ask, We can believe 
that the bones may have worked miracles for good 
men, but for bad men? "We will examine whether 
they work any miracles at all. And then, be 
hold, it came out that the bones did not work 
miracles, and that possibly they were not saints' 
bones at all; and then the storm came: and the 
lie, as all lies do, punished itself. The salt had 
lost its savour. The Teutonic intellect appealed 
from its old masters to God, and to God's universe 


of facts, and emancipated itself once and for all. 
They who had been the light of Europe, became 
its darkness; they who had been first, became 
last; a warning to mankind until the end of 
time, that on Truth and Virtue depends the only 
abiding strength. 




I DO not know whether any of you know much 
of the theory of war. I know very little my 
self. But something of it one is bound to know, 
as Professor of History. For, unfortunately, 
a large portion of the history of mankind is the 
history of war ; and the historian, as a man who 
wants to know how things were done as distinct 
from the philosopher, the man who wants to 
know how things ought to have been done 
ought to know a little of the first of human 
arts the art of killing. What little I know 
thereof I shall employ to-day, in explaining to 
you the invasion of the Teutons, from a so-called 
mechanical point of view. I wish to shew you 
how it was possible for so small and uncivilized a 
people to conquer one so vast and so civilized ; and 
what circumstances (which you may attribute to 
what cause you will : but I to God) enabled our 
race to conquer in the most vast and important 
campaign the world has ever seen. 


I call it a campaign rather than a war. 
Though it lasted 200 years and more, it seems to 
me (it will, I think, seem to you) if you look at 
the maps, as but one campaign : I had almost 
said, one battle. There is but one problem to be 
solved ; and therefore the operations of our race 
take a sort of unity. The question is, how to take 
Rome, and keep it, by destroying the Roman 

Let us consider the two combatants their 
numbers, and their position. 

One glance at the map will shew you which 
are the most numerous. When you cast your eye 
over the vastness of the Roman Empire from east 
to west Italy, Switzerland, half Austria, Turkey 
and Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, North 
Africa, Spain, France, Britain and then compare 
it with the narrow German strip which reaches 
from the mouth of the Danube to the mouth of 
the Rhine, the disparity of area is enormous; 
ten times as great at least ; perhaps more, if you 
accept, as I am inclined to do, the theory of Dr 
Latham, that we were always 'Markmen/ men of 
the Marches, occupying a narrow frontier between 
the Slavs and the Roman Empire; and that Taci 
tus has included among Germans, from hearsay, 
many tribes of the interior of Bohemia, Prussia, 
and Poland, who were Slavs or others; and that 
the numbers and area of our race has been, on 
Tacitus' authority, greatly overrated. 


"What then were the causes of the success of 
the Teutons? Native courage and strength ? 

They had these : but you must recollect what 
I have told you, that those very qualities were 
employed against them; that they were hired, in 
large numbers, into the Roman armies, to fight 
against their own brothers. 

Unanimity? Of that, alas! one can say but 
little. The great Teutonic army had not only to 
fight the Romans, but to fight each brigade the 
brigade before it, to make them move on ; and the 
brigade behind it likewise, to prevent their march 
ing over them; while too often two brigades quar 
relled like children, and destroyed each other on 
the spot. 

"What, then was the cause of their success ? I 
think a great deal of it must be attributed to their 
admirable military position. 

Look at a map of Europe; putting yourself 
first at the point to be attacked at Rome, and 
looking north, follow the German frontier from 
the Euxine up the Danube and down the Rhine. 
It is a convex arc : but not nearly as long as the 
concave arc of the Roman frontier opposed to it. 
The Roman frontier overlaps it to the north west 
by all Britain, to the south west by part of Turkey 
and the whole of Asia Minor. 

That would seem to make it weak, and liable 
to be outflanked on either wing. In reality it 
made it strong. 


Both the German wings rested on the sea; 
one on the Euxine, one on the North Sea. That 
in itself would not have given strength ; for the 
Roman fleets were masters of the seas. But the 
lands in the rear, on either flank, were deserts, 
incapable of supporting an army. What would 
have been the fate of a force landed at the mouth 
of the Weser on the north, or at the mouth of the 
Dnieper at the west ? Starvation among wild 
moors, and bogs, and steppes, if they attempted to 
leave their base of operations on the coast. The 
Romans saw this, and never tried the plan. To 
defend the centre of their position was the safest 
and easiest plan. 

Look at this centre. It is complicated. The 
Roman position is guarded by the walls of Italy, 
the gigantic earthwork of the Alps. To storm 
them, is impossible. But right and left of 
them, the German position has two remarkable 
points strategic points, which decided the fate 
of the world. 

They are two salient angles, promontories of 
the German frontier. The one is north-east of 
Switzerland ; the Allman country, between the 
head-waters of the Danube and the Upper Rhine, 
Basle is its apex. Mentz its northern point, Ra- 
tisbon its southern. That triangle encloses the 
end of the Schwartzwald ; the Black Forest of 
primaeval oak. Those oaks have saved Europe. 

The advantages of a salient angle of that kind, 


in invading an enemy's country, are manifest. You 
can break out on either side, and return at once into 
your own country on ' lines of interior operation;' 
while the enemy has to march round the angle, 
three feet for your one, on 'lines of exterior opera 
tion.' The early German invaders saw that, and 
burst again and again into Gaul from that angle. 
The Romans saw it also (admirable strategists as 
they were) and built Hadrian's wall right across it, 
from the Maine to the Danube, to keep them back. 
And why did not Hadrian's wall keep them back? 
On account of the Black Forest. The Roman 
never dared to face it ; to attempt to break our 
centre, and to save Italy by carrying the war into 
the heart of Germany. They knew (what the in 
vaders of England will discover to their cost) that 
a close woodland is a more formidable barrier than 
the Alps themselves. The Black Forest, I say, 
was the key of our position, and saved our race. 

From this salient angle, and along the whole 
Rhine above it, the Western Teutons could throw 
their masses into Gaul ; Franks, Vandals, Alans, 
Suevi, following each other in echellon. You 
know what an echellon means? When bodies of 
troops move in lines parallel to each other, but 
each somewhat in the rear of the other, so that 
their whole position resembles an echelle a flight 
of steps. This mode of attack has two great ad 
vantages. It cannot be outflanked by the enemy ; 
and he dare not concentrate his forces on the fore- 


most division, and beat the divisions in detail. 
If he tries to do so, he is outflanked himself, 
and he is liable to be beaten in detail by con 
tinually fresh bodies of troops. Thus only a part 
of his line is engaged at a time. Now it was en 
echellon, from necessity, that the tribes moved 
down. They could not follow immediately in 
each other's track, because two armies following 
each other would not have found subsistence 
in the same country. They had to march in 
parallel lines ; those nearest to Italy moving 
first; and thus forming a vast echellon, whose 
advanced left rested on, and was protected by, the 

But you must remember (and this is important) 
that all these western attacks along the Rhine 
and Rhone were mistakes, in as far as they were 
aimed at Rome. The Teutons were not aware, I 
suppose, that the Alps turned to the South be 
tween Gaul and Italy, and ran right down to the 
Mediterranean. There they found themselves still 
cut off from Rome by them. Hannibal's pass over 
the Mont Cenis they seem not to have known. 
They had to range down to the Mediterranean ; 
turn eastward along the Genoese coast at Nice; 
and then, far away from their base of operations, 
were cut off again and again, just as the Cimbri 
and Teutons were cut off by Marius. All attempts 
to take Rome from the Piedmontese entrance into 
Italy failed. But these western attacks had 


immense effects. They cut the Roman position in 

And then came out the real weakness of that 
great ill-gotten Empire, conquered for conquering's 
sake. To the north-west, the Romans had extended 
their line far beyond what they could defend. The 
whole of North Gaul was taken by the Franks. 
Britain was then isolated, and had to be given up 
to its fate. South Gaul, being nearer to Italy 
their base, they could defend, and did, like splen 
did soldiers as they were; but that defence only 
injured them. It thrust the foremost columns of 
the enemy on into Spain. Spain was too far from 
their base of operation to be defended, and was 
lost likewise, and seized by Vandals and Suevi. 
The true point of attack was at the other salient 
angle of our position, on the Roman right centre. 

You know that the Danube as you ascend it 
lies east and west from the Black Sea to Belgrade ; 
but above the point where the Save enters it, it 
turns north almost at right angles. This is the 
second salient point; the real key of the whole 
Roman Empire. For from this point the Germans 
could menace equally, Constantinople and Turkey 
on the right (I speak always as standing at Rome 
and looking north), and Italy and Rome on the 
left. The Danube once crossed, between them and 
Constantinople was nothing but the rich rolling 
land of Turkey ; between them and Rome nothing 
but the easy passes of the Carnic Alps, Laybach 


to Trieste. Trieste was the key of the Roman 
position. It was, and always will be, a most 
important point. It might be the centre of a 
great kingdom. The nation which has it ought to 
spend its last bullet in defending it. 

The Teutons did cross the Danube, as you 
know, in 376, and had a great victory, of which 
nothing came but moral force. They waited long 
in Mcesia before they found out the important 
step which they had made. The genius of Alaric 
first discovered the key of the Roman position, 
and discovered that it was in his own hands. 

I do not say that no Germans had crossed the 
Laybach pass before him. On the contrary, Mark- 
men, Quadi, Vandals, seem to have come over it 
as early as 180, and appeared under the walls of 
Aquileia. Of course, some one must have gone 
first, or Alaric would not have known of it. There 
were no maps then, at least among our race. 
Their great generals had to feel their way foot by 
foot, trusting to hearsays of old adventurers, de 
serters, and what not, as to whether a fruitful 
country or an impassable alp, a great city or the 
world's end, was twenty miles a-head of them. 
Yes, they had great generals among them, and 
Alaric, perhaps, the greatest. 

If you consider Alaric's campaigns, from A.D. 
400 to A.D. 415, you will see that the eye of a ge 
nius planned them. He wanted Rome, as all Teutons 
did. He was close to Italy, in the angle of which I 


just spoke; but instead of going hither, he resolved 
to go south, and destroy Greece, and he did it. 
Thereby, if you will consider, he cut the Roman 
Empire in two. He paralysed and destroyed the 
right wing of its forces, which might, if he had 
marched straight for Italy, have come up from 
Greece and Turkey, to take him in flank and rear. 
He prevented their doing that ; he prevented also 
their succouring Italy by sea by the same de 
struction. Arid then he was free to move on Home, 
knowing that he leaves no strong place on his left 
flank, save Constantinople itself; and that the 
Ostrogoths, and other tribes left behind, would 
mask it for him. Then he moved into Italy over 
the Carnic Alps, and was repulsed the first time 
at Pollentia. He was not disheartened; he re 
tired upon Hungary, waited five years, tried it 
again, and succeeded, after a campaign of two 

Yes. He was a great general. To be able 
to move vast masses of men safely througn a 
hostile country and in face of an enemy's army 
(beside women and children) requires an amount 
of talent bestowed on few. Alaric could do it. 
Dietrich the Ostrogoth could do it. Alboin the 
Lombard could do it, though not under such fear 
ful disadvantages. There were generals before 
Marlborough or Napoleon. 

And do not fancy that the work was easy; 
that the Romans were degenerate enough to be 


an easy prey. Alaric had been certainly beaten 
out of Italy, even though the victory of Pollentia 
was exaggerated. And in 405, Radagast with 
200,000 in en had tried to take Rome by Alaric's 
route, and had simply, from want of generalship, 
been forced to capitulate under the walls of Flo 
rence, and the remnant of his army sold for 

Why was Alaric more fortunate ? Because 
he was a great genius. And why when he died, 
did the Goths lose all plan, and wander wildly 
up Italy, and out into Spain ? Because the great 
genius was gone. Native Teuton courage could 
ensure no permanent success against Roman dis 
cipline and strategy, unless guided by men like 
Alaric or Dietrich. 

You might fancy the campaign over now : but 
it was not. Along the country of the Danube, 
from the Euxine to the Alps, the Teutons had 
still the advantage of interior lines, and vast bodies 
of men Herules, Gepids, Ostrogoths, Lombards 
were coming down in an enormous echellon 
similar to that which forced the Rhine; to force 
Italy at the same fatal point Venetia. The 
party who could command the last reserve would 
win, as is the rule. And the last reserves were 
with our race. They must win. But not yet. 
They had, in the mean time, taken up a concave 
line ; a great arc running round the whole west 
of the Mediterranean from Italy, France, Spain, 


Algeria, as far as Carthage. They could not 
move forces round that length of coast, as fast 
as the Romans could move them by sea; and 
they had no fleets. Although they had con 
quered the Western Empire, they were in a very 
dangerous position, and were about to be very 
nearly ruined. 

For you see, the Romans in turn had changed 
front at more than a right angle. They lay at 
first north-west and south-east. They lay in 
Justinian's time, north and south. Their right 
was Constantinople; their left Pentapolis; be 
tween those two points they held Greece, Asia 
Minor, Syria and Egypt ; a position of wealth 
incalculable. Meanwhile, as we must remember 
always, they were masters of the sea, and there 
fore of the interior lines of operation. They had 
been forced into this position; but, like Romans, 
they had accepted it. With the boundless com 
mon sense of the race (however fallen, debauch 
ed, pedantic) , they worked it out, and with terrible 

Their right in Constantinople was so strong 
that they cared nothing for it, though it was 
the only exposed point. They would defend it 
by hiring the Barbarians, and when they could 
not pay them, setting them on to kill down 
each other; while they quietly drew into Con 
stantinople the boundless crops of Asia, Syria 
and Egypt. 


The strength of Constantinople was infinite 
commanding two seas and two continents. It is, 
as the genius of Constantinople saw as the genius 
of the Czar Nicholas saw the strongest spot, per 
haps, in the world. That fact was what enabled 
Justinian's Empire to arise again, and enabled 
Belisarius and Narses to reconquer Africa and 
Italy. Remember that, and see how strong the 
Romans were still. 

The Teutons meanwhile had changed their 
front, by conquering the Western Mediterranean, 
and were becoming weak, because scattered on 
exterior lines, to their extreme danger. 

I cannot exaggerate the danger of that posi 
tion. It enabled the Romans by rapid move 
ments of their fleets, to reconquer Africa and 
Italy. It might have enabled them to do much 

Belisarius, with great wisdom, began by at 
tacking the Vandals at Carthage on the extreme 
right. They had put themselves into an isolated 
position, and were destroyed without help. Then 
he moved on Italy and the Ostrogoths. He was 
going to force the positions in detail, and drive 
them back behind the Alps. What he did not 
finish, Narses did ; and the Teutons were actually 
driven back behind the Alps for some years. 

But Narses had to stop at Italy. Even if not 
recalled, he could have gone no further. The 
next move should have been on Spain, if he had 


really had strength in Italy. But to attack Spain 
from Constantinople, would have been to go too 
far from home. The Franks would have crost the 
Pyrenees, and fallen on his flank. The Visigoths, 
even if beaten, would have been only pushed 
across the Straits of Gibraltar, to reconquer the 
Vandal coast of Africa; while to take troops from 
Italy for any such purpose, would have been to let 
in the Lombards who came, let in or not. There 
were reserves in Germany still, of which Narses 
knew full well ; for he had seen 5000 Lom 
bards, besides Herules, and Huns, and Avars, 
fight for him at Nuceria, and destroy the Ostro 
goths ; and he knew well that they could, if they 
chose, fight against him. 

On the other hand, the Roman Empire had no 
reserves ; while the campaign had just come to 
that point at which he who can bring up the 
last reserve wins. Ours were so far from being 
exhausted, that the heaviest of them, the Franks, 
came into action, stronger than ever, 200 years 

But the Roman reserves were gone. If 
Greece, if Asia Minor, if Egypt, had been .the 
holds of a hardy people, the Romans might have 
done still Heaven alone knows what. At least, 
they might have extended their front once more 
to the line of Carthage, Sicily, Italy. 

But the people of Syria and Egypt, were 
what they were. No recruits, as far as I know, 


were drawn from them. Had they been, they 
would have been face to face with a Frank, or a 
Lombard, or a Visigoth, much what not a Sikh, 
a Rohilla, or a Ghoorka, but a Bengalee proper 
would be face to face with an Englishman. One 
thousand Varangers might have walked from 
Constantinople to Alexandria without fighting a 
pitched battle, if they had had only Greeks and 
Syrians to face. 

Thus the Romans were growing weak. If we 
had lost, so had they. Every wild Teuton who 
came down to perish, had destroyed a Roman, or 
more than one, before he died. Each column 
which the admirable skill and courage of the 
Romans had destroyed, had weakened them as 
much, perhaps more, than its destruction weak 
ened the Teutons ; and had, by harrying the 
country, destroyed the Roman's power of obtain 
ing supplies. Italy and Turkey at last became 
too poor to be a fighting ground at all. 

But now comes in one of the strangest new 
elements in this strange epic Mohammed and his 

Suddenly, these Arab tribes, under the excite 
ment of the new Mussulman creed, burst forth 
of the unknown East. They take the Eastern 
Empire in the rear; by such a rear attack as the 
world never saw before or since; they cut it in 
two ; devour it up : and save Europe thereby. 

That may seem a strange speech. I must 



explain it. I have told you how the Eastern 
Empire and its military position was immensely 
strong ; that Constantinople was a great maritime 
base of operations, mistress of the Mediterranean. 
What prevented the Komans from reconquering 
all the shores of that sea,, and establishing them 
selves in strength in the Morea, or in Sicily, or 
in Carthage, or in any central base of operations ? 
What forced them to cling to Constantinople, and 
fight a losing campaign thenceforth. Simply this; 
the Mussulman had forced their position from the 
rear, and deprived them of Syria, Egypt, Africa. 

But the Teutons could not have opposed them. 
During the yth century the Lombards in Italy 
were lazy and divided; the Goths in Spain lazier 
and more divided still; the Franks were tearing 
themselves in pieces by civil war. The years 
from A.D. 550, to A, D. 750 and the rise of the 
Carlovingian dynasty, were a period of exhaustion 
for our race, such as follows on great victories, 
and the consequent slaughter and collapse. 

This was the critical period of the Teutonic 
race ; little talked of, because little known : but 
very perilous. Nevertheless whatever the Eastern 
Empire might have done, the Saracens prevented 
its doing; and if you hold (with me) that the 
welfare of the Teutonic race is the welfare of the 
world ; then, meaning nothing less, the Saracen 
invasion, by crippling the Eastern Empire, saved 
Europe and our race. 


And now, gentlemen, was this vast campaign 
fought without a general ? If Trafalgar could not 
be won without the mind of a Nelson, or Waterloo 
without the mind of a Wellington, was there no 
one mind to lead those innumerable armies, on 
whose success depended the future of the whole 
human race ? Did no one marshal them in that 
impregnable convex front, from the Euxine to the 
North Sea? No one guide them to the two great 
strategic centres, of the Black Forest and Trieste ? 
No one cause them, blind barbarians without maps 
or science, to follow those rules of war, without 
which victory in a protracted struggle is impos 
sible ; and by the pressure of the Huns behind, 
force on their flagging myriads to an enterprise 
which their simplicity fancied at first beyond 
the powers of mortal men ? Believe it who will : 
but I cannot. I may be told that they gravi 
tated into their places, as stones and mud do. 
Be it so. They obeyed natural laws of course, 
as all things do on earth, when they obeyed the 
laws of war: those too are natural laws, explicable 
on simple mathematical principles. But while I 
believe that not a stone or a handful of mud 
gravitates into its place without the will of God; 
that it was ordained, ages since, into what par 
ticular spot each grain of gold should be washed 
down from an Australian quartz reef, that a cer 
tain man might find it at a certain moment and 
crisis of his life ; if I be superstitious enough, 



(as thank God I am) to hold that creed, shall 
I not believe that though this great war had no 
general upon earth, it may have had a general in 
Heaven? and that in spite of all their sins, the 
hosts of our forefathers were the hosts of God ? 





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